This is how you do it

Jan 03, 2012, 06:47 IST | The Features Team

We've condensed the best studies from the past year to help you stay focussed on your lifestyle-change plans in the New Year. Go on, grab a bite of inspiration

We've condensed the best studies from the past year to help you stay focussed on your lifestyle-change plans in the New Year. Go on, grab a bite of inspiration

Need some real-life motivation?
Get yourself a virtual fitness buddy

Research from the Michigan State University finds that working out with a virtual partner improves motivation during exercise. So, if you have found yourself complaining about a lack of motivation to exercise, it's time to enlist the help of a friend. If you can't find an exercise buddy in the real world, it might be time to turn to the virtual world. It's easier, quicker, and you don't have to worry about your new workout pal being a morning or an evening person, or even living in the same neighbourhood as you do. The study is the first to investigate the Kohler effect on motivation in health video games; the phenomenon that explains why 'weaker' team members perform better in groups than they would by themselves.

Eat fibre to stay alive longer
The largest study done on the subject of high-fibre diets and lower risks of death found that eating more fibre (whole wheat grains, fruits, veggies and beans) not only lowered the risk of heart disease, but also of infectious and respiratory illnesses. A high-fibre was also linked to a reduced risk of cancer deaths in men. Diets high in fibre from grains were found to have the strongest overall benefits. The current daily recommendation of fibre is 25 grammes for women and 38 grammes for men. A slice of whole wheat bread, for example, contains two to four grammes of fibre.

A little goes a long way
According to recent studies even as little as 15 minutes of aerobic exercise is good for you. By aerobic exercise they mean the sort of activity that typically involves getting off the couch, working up a sweat, and using more oxygen (though not so much that you're gasping for air, but enough to give the lungs a workout). If you can squeeze in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, even better, but if you're busier than the President of the United States (who incidentally works out for 45 minutes, six days a week), then even brisk walking for 750 seconds, most days of the week, should do your health some serious good, including lowering your risk of heart disease.

Regular exercise will improve your goal-setting
A recent study by researcher Diane Klein, PhD, shed some light on the subject of why certain people are able to stick with exercise in the long-term. Focus. Instead of focusing on how they would like for a certain body part to look, they channelised their energies on the long-term benefits of exercise. Fitness was the number one motivator for people who had been working out for an average of 13 years. Second? Feelings of well-being. While it is important to have both long and short-term goals, if you're only motivation is looking good, you're likely to lose interest, sooner than you think.

Want to lose weight? Get a good night's sleep
According to a study done by the Columbia University in New York, sleep is not a luxury; it's a necessity, especially if you're trying to lose weight. Researchers studied 26 men and women of average weight to find out if people eat more when they are sleep-deprived. They found that participants consumed an average of 296 calories more when they had slept for fours hours (over a six-day period) than if they were well rested. According to experts, it's not just the extra calories that lead to weight gain, but the lack of motivation to exercise when tired. Double whammy!

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