Modifying Exercise Habits Through Positive Reinforcement of Self-Control

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Modifying Exercise Habits through Positive Reinforcement
In today’s modern society, technology plays a central role in the lives of most people. In the past, people enjoyed healthy, active lifestyles; however, the increasing dependence and reinforcement we receive from using technology has negatively impacted on the amount of time we spend active. (Epstein, Roemmich, Robinson, Pauluch, Winiewicz, Fuerch, & Robinson, 2008; Epstein, Roemmich, Saad, & Handley, 2004). According to behavioural economic theory, in order to successfully increase time spent exercising; time spent on the undesirable behaviour should be substituted with the more desirable behaviour. (Epstein, Saelens, & O’Brien, 1995)
There are many long term health benefits from increasing exercise participation; however these are generally overlooked due to the negative immediate consequences - fatigue and tenderness. This contrasts with the alternative sedentary activities, which offer positive immediate consequences, enjoyment and relaxation. (Reynolds, 2001) Therefore; in order to substitute the behaviours we must determine the antecedents for the two behaviours, and alter our environment to increase stimuli for the desired behaviour. We must also dedicate an effective, positive reinforcer and use on each day the exercise goal is achieved. An effective reinforcer should be something that is enjoyable, compelling and manageable; and, used as an immediate consequence of the target behaviour; should increase the rate of occurrence (Nevin, 2009).
Before implementing changes we must establish goals, and to do this we need to know the current behavioural habits. To do this, we need to monitor the behaviour for at least a week before making any changes to the target behaviour. Goals should be based around the target behaviour, in this case increasing weekly exercise rates. In order to establish how much my exercise rates need to increase, I need to consult my current habits, professional recommended



References: Anonymous. (2005). Health Benefits of Exercise. Jaapa, 18(2), 30. Birkimer, J. C., & Bledsoe, L. K. (1999). Covert Self-Reinforcers, Fear of Consequences, and Health Behaviour. The Journal of Social Psychology, 139(5), 654-664. Consalvi, A. R., Epstein, L. H., Kilanowski, C. K., Paluch, R. A. (1999). Reinforcing Value of Physical Activity as a Determinant of Chile Activity Level. Health Psychology, 18(6), 599-603. Dixon, M. R., Tibbetts, P. A. (2009). The Effects of Choice on Self-Control. Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 42(2), 243-252. Doll, B. B., Frank, M. J., Jacobs, W. J., Sanfey, A. G. (2009). Instructional control of reinforcement learning: A Behavioural and Neurocomputational Investigation. Brain Research. Domjan, M. P. (2009). The Principles of Learning and Behaviour. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. pp. 230-240. Epstein, L. H., Handley, E. A., Roemmich, J. N., Saad, F. G. (2004). The Value of Sedentary Alternatives Influences Child Physical Activity Choice. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 11(4), 236-242. Epstein, L. H., O’Brien, J. G., Saelens, B. E. (1995). Effects of Reinforcing Increases in Active Behaviour Versus Decreases in Sedentary Behaviour for Obese Children. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 2(1), 41-50. Epstein, L. H., Paluch, R. A., Raynor, H. A., Roemmich, J. N. (2005). Physical Activity as a Substitute for Sedentary Behaviour in Youth. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 29(3), 200-209. Nevin, J. A. (2009). Stimuli, Reinforcers, and the Persistence of Behaviour. The Behaviour Analyst, 32(2), 285-291. Reynolds, F. (2001). Strategies for Facilitating Physical Activity and Wellbeing: a Health Promotion Perspective. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(7), 330-336.

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