June 11, 2018 3:51 pm

The business of being healthy — don’t rely on willpower: UBC professor

Developing healthy habits can't be left to willpower.

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Manitoban men are among the least healthy in the country.

A recent survey from the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation showed 78.6 per cent of men in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are considered unhealthy. The national average was 72 per cent.

READ MORE: Manitoba men are some of the unhealthiest in Canada, survey concludes

But how can someone — man or woman — motivate themselves to make positive changes for their health?

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Yann Cornil, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business said there are a few ways to increase the chances you’ll succeed in sticking to your plan.

“Goals that are more likely to be attained are usually realistic, of course — you don’t want to make something completely over the top,” he said. “But there’s also research on how to frame goals, whether it is promotion or prevention. So a promotion type of goal would be for instance, ‘if I stop smoking, I will save money and I can run 10k.’ A prevention type of goal would be ‘if I stop smoking, I would avoid having a disease.'”

“We know that positive goals, promotion goals, are usually more effective and people are more likely to follow them.”

Aside from framing goals in a positive way, Cornil suggests the more you can control your environment, the better.

“What research suggests is that people who are good at controlling themselves do not necessarily have a lot of willpower,” Cornil said. “They’re not necessarily good at resisting temptation, saying no to the extra drink, for instance, but they are good at managing their environment.”

One way of doing this is to think about how you design your kitchen. By putting something out of sight, it’s more likely to stay out of mind — ideally.

“What do you want to have visible in your kitchen — do you want to have the fruits or the snacks?” Cornil said.

“You’d better have the snacks locked in a cupboard, and the fruits very visible, because they act as cues that can activate specific wants.”

 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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