For those of you who participate in our MUS Wellness Incentive Program, one of our annual challenges is called “Climb On!”, and the challenge is to climb 70 flights of stairs or more per week, which is the default goal setting on many wearable health trackers like Fitbit™.
There are several reasons to climb. First, it’s fantastic for our metabolism. Climbing stairs or hills utilizes the strong, large muscles in our legs and hips, which drives our metabolic rate over 200% of its resting rate, and that’s at a walk. At the same time, climbing develops strength, balance, and coordination in those same muscles, which comes in handy in many parts of Montana, especially when recreating outdoors. So don’t miss an opportunity to take the stairs, it’s an easy way to gain fitness!
Last year, we interviewed one of our employees and learned how she customized this challenge in a way that made her, dare we say, step up.
Jocelyn Larson is part of the MSU Bozeman Recreational Sports & Fitness Staff, and we interviewed Jocelyn last year shortly after the “Climb On” challenge had ended. We waited to post this video until now, to give a little extra motivation to those participating in the challenge, or getting back into a regular exercise routine now that school is back in session. This is a great example of how to take one of our Wellness challenges and tailor it to fit your goals and schedule. Enjoy!
Your MUS Wellness team feels privileged to work for and with such amazing people like the ones featured in this video. This is just a small sampling of what’s happening all over Montana! As always, thank you to our MUS employees for committing to your personal health & well-being as well as to the culture of wellness on your campus!
Episode 4: Neal reflects on his recent Ride Across Montana (RAM), including trip highlights and challenges. Audio recordings from the trip are included as well. Finally, Neal & Cristin talk about upcoming MUS Wellness events.
As the employee wellness team, our job is to help inspire & motivate MUS employees to take better care of themselves through healthy lifestyle choices. Thus, we are continually talking about positive behavior change; not only about what changes would be good to make, but just as important, how to make those new behaviors stick. Most of us can adopt a new behavior for a short period of time, say one or two weeks, but it’s long-term behavior change that eludes so many of us.
That’s why I was excited when I recently heard about a concept called temptation bundling. Temptation bundling is pairing an activity that you should do, but tend to avoid, with one that you enjoy, but isn’t necessarily productive. Usually the enjoyable behavior is something that is instantly gratifying, while the “should” behavior is something that has more long-term benefits.
The term temptation bundling was coined by Katherine Milkman, a professor at Wharton, who conducted a study wherein participants could listen to an audiobook of The Hunger Games or other highly tempting novel only if they were at the gym. In a nutshell, the study found that participants whose listening was restricted to exclusively while at the gym visited the gym 51% more frequently than the control group who were simply encouraged to workout more. This effect was most pronounced for people with the busiest schedules. If you’d like to read the full details of the study, here’s a link to the study abstract.
Although the study effect lessened over time, especially during the holidays, I think the concept of temptation bundling is still worth considering when implementing a new behavior, or when trying to increase the frequency of an existing behavior. In fact, after learning about temptation bundling, I realized that I had actually been applying temptation bundling in my personal life already! I have a very sweet, 7-year-old lab mix named Bianca who likes a morning walk. Most mornings, I am happy to take her on the 45 minute loop around our neighborhood, but some mornings, especially dark, cold, winter mornings, it can be tough to drag myself out of bed. And yet, I have missed very few walks and have remained surprisingly consistent with this behavior, even if that means suiting up in my one-piece Carharts and putting on a headlamp to venture outside. The reason? I only allow myself to listen to podcasts while I’m walking my dog. And I love podcasts. Several mornings, when the alarm is going off in the dark, and I’m tempted to hit the snooze and snuggle back into bed, it’s the allure of a listening to a new podcast that makes me get up. It’s true that the desire to be a good doggie mama coupled with a wet little dog nose in my face also helps keep this behavior going, but there have been many times that it’s clear Bianca would rather stay in bed too.
So give it a try! Take a behavior that you feel you should do but aren’t necessarily eager to do (i.e. cleaning, responding to email, or exercising) and pair it with something you love. Only allow yourself the enjoyable activity while doing the “should” activity. Here are a few examples of temptation bundling to get your ideas flowing:
Listening to your favorite music album while cleaning the house, or listening to your favorite song while flossing your teeth
Watching House of Cards or other Netflix favorite while chopping vegetables or prepping dinner
Enjoying a fancy coffee drink only while grocery shopping*
Eating a piece of chocolate while responding to emails you’ve been putting off*
*As a dietitian, I’d caution you against using too many calorie-laden treats as the enjoyable behavior, but you get the idea!