A good walking habit is hard to
In a recent check-in with our lovely members, we asked (with a little trepidation) what their biggest frustration with trundl had been so far.
We were hugely relieved to find that there were genuinely few gripes (and no, we didn’t offer bribes…) but the greatest barrier to people using the app was creating the habit. For some this might be the actual habit of taking regular walks, for others it was simply remembering to turn the app on at all before they set off (some keep forgetting to turn it off at the end, but trundl has a cunning way of detecting that you’re now traveling at 60mph in a car and doing the maths itself…)
No one blamed trundl for their poor willpower or memory lapses, but as there was a suggestion that we could perhaps nudge more often, we have upped the tempo on polite (and, we hope, jolly) reminder notifications.
Judging by the increased number and frequency of people trundling, this does seem to be helping, but it did get us thinking about the whole issue of forming and keeping good habits, so we’re sharing some thoughts drawn from a few sage sources, including some of our very own friend-of-trundl experts.
What’s with the 21-day ‘rule’?
Popular wisdom says that a habit takes at least 21 days to form. While a 2009 UCL study proved this to be overly optimistic by finding that 66 days was more likely to be the minimum time it takes to truly cement a new practice, it is still a useful starting point. After all, it can sometimes only take a crucial moment of realisation for some people to make a new (or drop an old) lifetime habit. So, if you prepare yourself with the right mindset and commitment, a sensible walking (or any) habit can at least take good root in those first 21 days.
How should I prepare to create a new exercise habit?
First of all, unless you are the sort of person who sees a mountain as an invitation to go climbing, there is absolutely no point in setting yourself a massive end goal and hoping for the best. We should see it as a 21-day work-in-progress journey. Set small, but gradually more challenging goals– if someone starts with a 10-minute walk on the first day for example, simply adding another minute each day could have them trundling for 30 minutes by day 21. By which time the benefits to health and mental wellbeing should be kickstarting the desired virtuous health circle.
‘My need to start an exercise programme was primarily about losing weight’ shared Helena, a founder trundlr. ‘But I didn’t want to get obsessed by weighing myself all the time or setting drastic food restrictions that I knew would defeat me. So, I gave myself a series of attainable goals that didn’t necessarily have a timeframe, but contained enough of an incentive to keep me striving. For instance, I bought a lovely dress in a size just below my ‘normal’ one and the thrill of slipping into it and receiving some great compliments surpassed any weigh-in metrics and spurred me on to get to the next size down’
Debbie Barber, a popular Weardale-based Personal Trainer and a regular advisor to trundl on exercise matters, has some great advice too:
‘You have to love what you’re doing! If you’re going to stick to your new plan for the long-term, it has to be something you enjoy…don’t sign up for a marathon if you hate running. If you’re looking to get fit, but dread the thought of joining a gym…don’t! Check out your local community centre for classes, or join a local sports team or download trundl and join the virtual collective of charity walkers’
How to get through the ‘sticky middle’?
Most people fall off the good habit wagon between days 4-10 when limited benefit has been seen or felt and the effort and commitment can easily become ‘inconvenient’. This is when telling yourself a positive story and reinforcing your goals through the power of imagery can create a strong personal narrative that is hard to forsake. Before you go to bed, imagine what tomorrow’s trundl might feel like – where will you go and what might you see? Remind yourself how you feel when you’ve completed your exercise and how you want to make your loved ones proud or happy for you.
‘If I was to create a new habit, I would attach something personal and lovely to it’ advised Amanda, who has a Bsc in Psychology and is a fellow trundlr. ‘For me, before I go out, I think about what I’d like to see on the walk – usually it’s the image of my tiny dog flying along the cliff paths with a happy grin on his chops. This really sets me up to positively want to go out walking, even if it’s pouring’.
‘Do you let yourself off the hook on a regular basis? Keep finding excuses NOT to do it? Many of us need a push to stay on track, so find like-minded people to help keep you motivated (and accountable)’.
Beyond the 21
Completing a 21-day streak shouldn’t actually be seen as the end-goal (this could be where you can tell yourself about the 66-day rule if it no longer feels daunting). By this point, a regular trundl walking habit should be part of your daily routine (we believe other exercise programmes are available). Your focus should still be upon longer-term benefits of keeping this habit – perhaps a new outfit to match a trimmer figure, a walking holiday somewhere lovely or the chance to see and feel each turn of the seasons in your nearest park or wilderness.
Oh, and don’t forget to press ‘Go trundling’ each time. We will remind you, but hopefully it’ll be a part of your daily rhythm by now.