A finger pushing/ nudging the pile of stones.

Nudging and MS – a winning formula?

  • Does nudging and MS even work together?
  • Can nudging help you to exercise more, when you have MS?

Let’s try and test it! Are you in? Please read along as you might find the hacks useful on how to subconciously do more exercise. Or the very least inspiration for you to find your own personal hacks.

Are you familiar with this scenario?

“I just can not find the motivation to exercise”. Even though I often talk about how to find the motivation for exercising, when you have MS, it doesn’t mean that we should sit around forever and wait for the motivation to arrive.

Some times simply just taking action does also help rather than waiting for the motivation to kick in. Some times action in itself can help to create motivation. But how do we easily take action spontaneously?

Perhaps this is where the principles of nudging comes in handy? (the fact that nudging is a subcounsious method is just so much the better, I would say)

The doorstep mile

The lack of motivation is a common subject in the beginning of a new year. This is the time for all the goals and resolutions to flourish. However, most of them will be unrealistic, unspecific and unmeasureable. If the motivation was not iffy already, it certainly will be when you are hit with the lack of success following them through.

The Norwegian expression the doorstep mile is about how hard it can be to start something up and how far the distance out of the house can feel emotionally if motivation is lacking. With that in the back of our minds, this post is about the principles of nudging and selfmanagement of your exercises. It is about how you may be able to subconciously add more exercise and make healthier choses around your everyday life with MS. This post is for you if your motivation is a bit iffy. Is it?

the first steps out of the house are the hardest when it comes to exercising.

What is nudging?

Nudging is the use of certain types of interventions with the goal to create changes in behaviour subconsciously. Nudging can help us make choices or take certain actions without us having to conciously be aware of it and without use of punishment. We are not just rational people – we are also influenced by psychological, social and physical factors. For instance like in the use of small plates versus big plates and stickers in the shape of foot prints or targets.

How can you trigger yourself to make healthier choices?

Nudging is a popular word, but I am not any expert on the matter. However, I still think we can look at how you can adjust in your everyday life in order to make more healthy choices around exercise in a subconcious way. What can you do yourself in order to pick exercise automatically without having to make a rational and concious decision about it? Try to borrow the principles from nudging so you can help yourself on autopilot and create behavioural changes that matters to you. Perhaps you can make nudging and MS go hand in hand?

Could you for instance:

  • Keep the dumbells at hand in the living room?
  • Put the exercise shoes out in the hall ready for use?
  • Wear your exercise clothes first thing in the morning?
  • Change into your exercise clothes before leaving work?
  • Make use of a gym locally to your workplace?
  • Put up reminders of your exercises around the home and/or at work?
  • Pick a walking route near work?
  • Park further away from your house?
  • Take a picture of yourself when you have finished exercising to remind yourself on how well you felt afterwards?
  • Put a timer on your phone to remind you to stand up?

In this previous post we heard about how Heidi makes it easy on herself by keeping the exercise equipment at hand. Perhaps you feel inspired to do the same?

The majority wins

We are often influenced by the actions of the majority. If you were to pick between a crowded and an empty restaurant, you might too pick the crowded one. Can you use that train of thoughts when it comes to exercising? Which communities do you take part in that could influence your choices?

Perhaps you are part of a social online group who shares pictures from your individual walks. This might cause a bit of competitiveness in order to get the most fun or best picture – but some times this works for some people too.

Use your imagination and find communities who can positively influence you.

What is your verdict so far? Does nudging and MS even work together?

Friends and experts

Beside the subconcious way (like in nudging) our behaviour is also influenced more consciously.

You will meet a lot of advice from experts about exercise and healthy choices in life. Although some times the advice from friends and colleagues might influence you more. This is why some companies make use of health ambassadors.

  • How about you? Are you influenced by the people in your surroundings?
  • What do you value the most? Advice from friends or professionals?

Which scenario is most appealing to you?

  • your friend with MS recommends you to join a new exercise class due to the practical benefits he/she has experienced.
  • your MS neuro recommends you to exercise as a part of your treatment.

Don’t get me wrong – all health professionals should recommend exercise if you have MS. We just can neglect that our surroundings also plays a crucial part when it comes to influence.

If you enjoy reading about exercise and active lifestyle with MS, then this practical Q&A might be for you. Nudging is also relevant when it comes to cracking sedentary lifestyle – read here.

One last recommendation

1/ Find your personal hacks that triggers healthy behaviours around exercise. Some personal brainstorming is needed.

Remember to allow yourself to start up small. Action also can create motivation.

2/ Share this post on social media via the sharing buttons below. This way you will help to minimise the emotional distance out of the door for others.

Writing tools illustrating a P.S.

P.S. Please check this post if you want to find your inner motivation.

P.P.S. In this systematic review from 2019 the effect of nudging has been evaluated based on different studies.

“In conclusion, many of the moderate- and high-quality stud-
ies included in our systematic review find that the investigated
nudges significantly improved direct self-management outcomes,
such as increasing physical activity, attendance (e.g., at screening
visits), self-monitoring, and medication adherence in people with
chronic diseases…… Thus, nudges appear to
be effective for improving chronic disease self-management, but
these changes might not be substantial enough to affect disease
control within a short observation period.”

This review shows signs that nudging does help in terms of selfmanagement. However the follow up period was suggested to be too short in order to see a change in controlling the disease.

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