Stick to It! Chat with Dan Ariely and Mary Harris


Thanks for the great conversation! To view a recording of the chat, click the play button. 

Or you can read a summary of the results from our experiment.

Comments [73]

Marian from Newburgh, NY

So when Dan mentioned the importance of putting exercise on the calendar, while listening to the podcast, I added 'walk the dog' at 7:10 AM every weekday (right after my daughter leaves for school). And I set different times on the weekends based on what was happening on a recurring basis each week..

Feb. 29 2016 05:23 PM

Hi, Laura from Minnesota, Dan suggests having someone in your life become someone you're accountable to. For him, it's a friend he checks in with who's also trying to exercise more.

Feb. 29 2016 05:20 PM
Naomi from Rockville Centre, NY

Dan mentioned rituals and bad habits like nail biting, or thumb sucking. Does this give any suggestions for how to use a ritual to break a habit.

Feb. 29 2016 05:14 PM
laura from Minnesota

Participating for research, or for a cause outside of myself, helped keep me hooked. Have you discussed this factor yet?

Feb. 29 2016 05:13 PM
Helen from NYC

How did you isolate the effect of the ritual from the effect of checking in on exercise? It seems like you might not have enough information to separate those two aspects of the app.

Feb. 29 2016 05:13 PM

Hi, Valerie from Brooklyn, it's possible you were in the control group.

Feb. 29 2016 05:10 PM
Valerie from Brooklyn

I received my first ritual on the 23rd of February. I had no missions other than the check-ins. Did I miss something? I would put in my secret code, get a notice that a new mission had been added, but there was never a new mission there (except for the ritual on 2/23).

Feb. 29 2016 05:08 PM
Toni from New Jersey

I loved this program, I found that it truly helped. Kept me on track, the rituals were great, but the "What the Hell Effect" in the original podcast kept playing in my head every time I did the ritual. I will keep up with the rituals and the exercising!

Feb. 29 2016 05:08 PM
laura from Minnesota

I started to feel bad about the fact that my smiles were always kind of weak. I started to feel like exercising should make me ecstatically happy or something and yet it wasn't working that way.

What was it about the satisfaction monitor?

Feb. 29 2016 04:58 PM
Erin S. from Fredericksburg, VA

I could not seem to be consistent in doing the ritual before or after exercise. I would always remember after I started the exercise (and maybe I'd sneak it in). I was VERY consistent on the morning ritual but it is unclear to me how this helped with my goals.

Feb. 29 2016 04:57 PM

Ruth Mullen from NYC, everyone's data was important and informative, including the control groups (in fact it was interesting that the Apple control group did quite well), people who were less diligent...etc.

Feb. 29 2016 04:57 PM
Ginger from LI, NY

Did you use control groups? I got the app, but no notifications, push notices, or instructions regarding rituals. Perhaps I didn't figure out the app, btw, I hae an Android. Thanks!

Feb. 29 2016 04:56 PM
Cheryl Bluestone from Bronx, NY

I may have missed this, what were the mood questions about? How did this fit in to your study?

Feb. 29 2016 04:54 PM

Alicia from Mexico, yes, we will ask about Dan's plans for the data. Thanks!

Feb. 29 2016 04:51 PM
Alicia from Mexico

Are you going to write a paper with the results?

Feb. 29 2016 04:46 PM

Hi, Helen from NYC, to watch the video, no need to logon, just click play.

Feb. 29 2016 04:42 PM
Helen from NYC

I was never clear on how to use the app, which may have had to do with my randomization assignment. I also can't figure out how to login to this live discussion. Are there any instructions?

Feb. 29 2016 04:37 PM
Tracy from D.C.

Either something was wrong with my app/phone, or there was a "pretty much no treatment" control group. I think the app sent me a reminder notification 2 or 3 times and that was it. I had completely forgotten about the study until I got an email about this live chat. Curious to see if there was a no treatment control.

By the way, I have been exercising really regularly, but I haven't been engaged with the app at all.

Feb. 29 2016 04:31 PM
Ingrid from Indiana

Why didn't you connect exercise to an established habit rather than connecting to a new one. It was more of a chore remembering to drink the water.

Feb. 29 2016 04:29 PM
Joel Rubin from Santa Rosa, CA

I will be joining the online chat, shortly. I had one issue that I would like to post. Late in the process a second breathing ritual was introduced. The instructions ended with the statement "taking as many breaths as you feel comfortable with." I found this instruction to be particularly vague, as one could be "comfortable" with the breathing for an extended period of time, which I do not believe was the purpose of the ritual. Could you suggest a range of breaths to take?

Feb. 29 2016 04:21 PM

It seems pretty clear that some people got more encouragement and features than others, and that might affect outcomes, but how will you account for people just not recording what they did accurately? I for one did not always record my exercise, and was not able to do so the following day. Also, my version of the app was too binary. I couldn't say how long I exercised, only whether or not I in fact did exercise. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed participating thus far. I am a major proponent of getting people to exercise at least as much as is necessary to maintain good health, and ideally, as much as they can benefit from. It will be very interesting to hear the findings from this study.

Feb. 29 2016 04:04 PM
Aliza from Israel

I started the challenge with a great passion but over the weeks I felt it is not encouraging enough as I fall into routine
I think that something in the app should have been changed to give more boost to encourage exercising
I did exercise when ever I had the time at first it was because of the app but later it was because I wanted to do so and not because I was thinking about the app.
I would like to know if this app kept people the people who use it to exercise more than they do it without the app.
And of course the results of the research.
Anyway I hope I will be able not to fall asleep when the chat will be on line, if not I will hear the recording chat.
Thank you for giving me the chance to participate in this research.

Feb. 29 2016 03:53 PM
Shirley Moraes

Unlike some of the people posting here, I was not someone that had already been exercising before. I haven't exercised in years, have never been fit for a long time and never learned to like exercise. It has always been a chore and a fight, whenever I dared to exercise.
In this program, the daily check-ins (morning and night), and the weekend check-in, were helpful to keep me accountable. The weekend check-ins were especially good to help me think and plan the coming week. The idea that this was for a greater good (it's for research!) also helped me to stick to it. My ritual, thankfully, was to meditate on my breathing and be mindful of the needs of my body. This was very helpful to me. Since I had to do the ritual every morning (and before and after exercising), the mindful state spilled over breakfast time making me mindful of what I ate. That started helping me with my diet and I decided to do the breathing meditation before each meal. In that sense, being mindful of how my body felt at each meal time (am I still hungry?), helped me listen to my body when exercising. Instead of slogging through an exercise routine, I decided to take it as a "me" time. Maybe dancing to warm up and at the treadmill would be more fun; listening to my body to figure out how much to push myself in each exercise session; reminding myself that it is not a competition, that it is ok to scale down the exercise so I am not sore the next day; that I don't have to please anybody but myself; and that it is not about the instant results (are my muscles bigger? Am I trimming my waist?), it's about "me" time for the long-run, a time to be silly, dance around, have fun and sweat! Thank you Dan!

Feb. 29 2016 02:14 PM
JSH from FL

1) Was there a strong correlation between the # of check-ins and # of work-outs?
2) Who ended up working out more? those who *planned* to work out more or less days/week?
3) Was there a pattern in those who worked out regularly?

Feb. 29 2016 01:05 PM
Stephanie from Colorado

A couple questions:
- Overall did participants achieve their goals?
- how were the rituals chosen? any significance to the water?
- Did most people faithfully check in over the course of the entire study?
- Does timing of check ins matter? Or is location more important
- On average, what were participant's exercise goals?

I really enjoyed participating in the study!

Feb. 29 2016 12:08 PM
Nancy Barr from Rye Brook, NY

I really enjoyed being part of the study and look forward to hearing the results. My goal was somewhat modest. I was already exercising about 4 times a week but I wanted to increase it to 5 or 6 times. I think I made it every week except one week when I was away. I think that the fact that I was expected to check in every day and the fact that I was participating in a study made me more committed to doing the exercise. Although I did not always do the ritual (sips of water at wakeup, before exercise and after), I usually did it and I do think it made me more mindful about what I was doing which encouraged me to keep it up. Unlike some of the other folks, I am not good about drinking water, so it did encourage me to do something else that was good for me beyond the exercise. I also hope I can stay on track now that the study is over.

Feb. 29 2016 10:56 AM

My assignment was to drink sips of water. This didn't work for me at all. Counting sips of water seemed silly and the check-ins made me feel bad if I hadn't exercised. I drink water all day. What's the big deal about sips? Reminders were not what I needed. Reminders are easy. I have already tried reminders on my phone and calendar. I don't need a special app for that. If I sound annoyed it's because I'm disappointed. I'll be curious to find out the results. I hope there will be a transcript available.

Feb. 29 2016 10:36 AM
Vrinda G from Washington DC

What worked well for me in the beginning was the Sunday survey asking me which days of the week I wanted to work out. I think, just punching in the days at the beginning of the week increased my commitment level to working out. Towards the end, after a few slip ups, I started to check in only on the days that I had worked out (I didn't always check in the morning - sometimes it was midday).

Feb. 29 2016 10:16 AM
Danielle from Hewitt, NJ

My ritual was to get my clothes ready for exercise the night prior to my workout.
I did this only a few times. What really motivated me was the nightly check-in. Except for one week where I was sick, I virtually completed my goal of exercising every weekday (missing only a few days). Once there was an encouraging message about how even if you've slacked off it doesn't mean you shouldn't continue reaching for your goal. That really helped because I was down on myself for missing a week (maybe it was four days I can't remember). Before stick to it I hadn't exercised in three months. So THANK YOU Dan, Mary and everyone on this project. 👍🏽😎💜

Feb. 29 2016 10:13 AM
Gary Goebel from Lake Geneva, WI

My goal is/was to exercise daily. I stayed pretty much true to that goal. And I am rarely seen without a water bottle in my hand through out the day. I found the ritual to take a certain number of sips depending on the day to become more annoying than helpful.
I am a cyclist, so I exercise regularly and have a HOST of rituals- fill water bottles, pump tires, check chain/brakes, etc. Do I have my shoes, socks, helmet,gloves glasses, heart rate monitor, id.... These rituals serve a purpose and are part of the process. But sipping water???? Did not really do much for me.
Sorry! I do hope to be able to listen in later today. I am a huge fan of Dan Ariely's research/work/books.

Feb. 29 2016 09:40 AM
Dana from Sacramento, Ca

Good morning!
Not sure I'll be able to make the live chat. I have more of a comment than question.
My ritual was to drink a few sips of water upon waking and before and after exercise. I do this pretty much anyway. So, I think my motivating factor was more that I knew I had to check in each day.
I enjoyed seeing the other rituals out there revealed at the end of the study.
Thank you!

Feb. 29 2016 09:19 AM
Lisa from New Jersey

I really loved being a part of this. I think rather than my ritual being the motivating factor, the fact that I felt a sort of personal connection with the project helped me make more of a commitment. It felt a bit like a personal trainer/coach saying good morning every day!! No specific questions. Will look forward to hearing recording as I'll be at work.

Feb. 29 2016 08:51 AM
Mark from E. Greenwich, RI

I enjoyed the nightly bedtime check-in. It was very satisfying at the end of the day to settle in and report that I had met my goal for the day. Definitely motivated to me to "stick to it" so that I got that nugget of reinforcement of my accomplishment before turning in for the day.

Feb. 29 2016 08:49 AM

So, is it possible that I couldn't stick to my exercise habit, no matter how rewarding it could be or how much I know and understand about the health benefits of exercise, that I'm behaving exactly like Doug Lisle's great grey shrike? Is my behavior driven by genes that tell me to avoid pain, conserve energy, and reproduce (not at my age)? I intellectually recognize the value and benefits of exercise, and maybe get an endorphin boost for a temporary sense of well-being, but it's not enough to offset the efficiency getting directly to pleasure (sense of wellbeing) by sitting on my ass in a warm house sipping cocoa when it's 30 degrees outside.

Feb. 28 2016 12:05 PM
Wendy from Harrison, NJ

It will be nice to see what the other rituals were, and if others found them helpful. Mine of just drinking water did not seem to have a positive effect on my work out routines. I found my exercise improved by working out with friends and changing up exercises.

Feb. 27 2016 04:44 PM
Joe from PA

Curious about what you are going to find! Usually on the other side of this situation.

Feb. 25 2016 10:22 PM

It was interesting participating in this study, but to be honest, it started to feel very much like a chore, not a boost of encouragement. I had trouble maintaining interest. Was there a specific reason why the wording and pictures were the same all the time? What were the extra tasks used for, such as the "which line is longer" task? How many different test groups were there? Can you explain the differences between the test groups and the control group? How many people participated in the study? Would a potential final app have a different layout, graphics, setup? That might make using it more appealing. Thanks for letting me participate. I cannot join the chat, but will be listening to it after.

Feb. 24 2016 02:03 AM
Alyssa from NYC

Checking in on the app felt more like the ritual than the water drinking; any chance of developing a lifestyle app that can exist beyond the study? Perhaps an app that can track your fitness in a similar way, and that can provide data (similar to the Sleep Cycle app or the Health app on iPhones)?

Feb. 24 2016 12:05 AM
Carl from Canada

Great if you can provide more background regarding the role of the ritual, and the effect regarding the timing of performing it.

Feb. 23 2016 04:09 PM
Ann M from NJ

Is it possible to view our own missions accomplished? It could be motivating to see how well we did individually. Also, can we keep up with the daily reminders? Pretty sure this is what kept me going.

Feb. 22 2016 12:49 PM
Maisie from Brooklyn, NY

How important is it (or not) to perform the ritual at the EXACT same time? I don't get up at the same time every day, but I have been performing it at generally the same time.

As long as I always do it as a part of my morning routine, is that enough to feel the benefits of doing it, even if it might be done at a different time each day?

Feb. 22 2016 12:23 PM
Audg from Chicago, IL

I won't be able to make the online chat but I wanted to let you know that I have been exercising more since I joined the study. A lot more! I feel like exercise is / has become a habit. I just hope I can keep it up when I know you're no longer "watching" me.

Feb. 22 2016 11:53 AM

Hi, Sheila, we are saving all the questions and comments to restore them on the day of the chat. People understandably are interested in asking about their group's interventions, but because the study is on-going and we don't want to bias the participants, we have to hold off on that discussion until Feb. 29.

Feb. 22 2016 11:52 AM
Erin Swartz from Fredericksburg, VA

I felt like the ritual was merely a distraction and the actual motivator was being asked each morning if I planned to exercise that day. If I said yes, I felt like I had made a commitment that I did not want to break. Was this an intent of the study, or am I an outlier?

Feb. 22 2016 10:24 AM
Barbara from NYC

How did you decide what "rituals" to use? Are they a specific action related to meditation or taking care of the human body? How do rituals increase the behavior?

Feb. 22 2016 09:30 AM
Caroline from Fl

Throughout the entire experience I have felt like I was somehow missing part of the study. Other than the repetitiveness of the smiley face,I thought I could have used more positive reinforcement.

Feb. 22 2016 08:26 AM
Pete from Boston

What's the null hypothesis? And please share with us the literature/theory that lead up to this study!

Feb. 22 2016 08:08 AM
ruth from NY

Week 1 and 2 I felt like the 9PM checkin was a conversation with myself..a sort of journal entry to reinforce my good feelings about exercising, or express my disappointment with missing it.
Week 3 and 4 felt like a confessional with Dan and I was waiting for him to tell me my penance and chide or reward me. With nothing forthcoming, and only a slider to make a smiley or frowny face, I devolved into the third state: lying to my elders and becoming non-engaged, just doing the perfunctory half smiley face, but still feeling committed to (or obligated to) report nothing but the smiley whether I exercised or not. I kept hoping that Dan would become animated and smile with me, or frown with me according to my response.
The final phase: it doesn't matter whether I exercise or not. The act of interacting with the app is what I'm committed to, and I chastise myself for failing to exercise.

Was this the control group? Because I kept thinking there must be more.

Feb. 21 2016 11:09 PM
Gabriela from Los Angeles

What is the science behind the stick to it and why does it motivate people to exercise? Why do you think the ritual works to motivate people to exercise?

Feb. 21 2016 10:26 PM
Sarah from NC

For the water ritual,what's the deal with the different number of sips depending on the day of the week?

Feb. 21 2016 12:23 PM
Jim from Ny

How many punch the bottom that says "do not push this button"

Feb. 21 2016 11:19 AM
Nick from Washington DC

I never felt like it was clear what I should be doing with the Fabulous app. Should I be using it somehow other than having installed it and gone through the initial setup instructions?

Feb. 21 2016 10:09 AM

This website has glitches just like the app did!

Feb. 21 2016 09:13 AM

Did you guys really take down all the comments that were here earlier?

Feb. 21 2016 12:27 AM
J from Vancouver from Vancouver

At first, I found the App really motivating (I had no tech issues, BTW). But the program didn't change and I never got feedback. So I stopped caring and stopped using it. I figured that was part of the study; I had parsed from your original introduction of the App that different participants got different programs.
I'd like to report that virtually "poking" someone works for about 2 weeks and then it doesn't do anything. I think people trying to change their lifestyle need some kind of direct feedback, even if it's not actually personalized, e.g.: at a new phase the App is programmed to give each user a novel piece of info to chew on or some new encouragement to motivate.
I found the photos of Dr. Dan both amusing and slightly discomfiting and spent a little too much time trying to figure out if they had anything to do with what he was researching.
I'm on the west coast so I'd also like to have this recorded.

Feb. 20 2016 06:24 PM
Rhonda from Seattle

I liked having the reminders. My behavior change wasn't perfect--I had ideally hoped to get a habit of 5 days of exercise per week. But I'm getting closer! Before this study I was at fairly low exercise levels: 1x/week of rather low-intensity cardio. I credit the reminders on the app with helping me increase my exercise frequency (3x/week) as well as the intensity. The self-assessment at the end of the day (when I remembered to fill it out) reminded me that I generally felt a lot better and more satisfied with my day when I had exercised. (That may have been the best inducement to stick with it: when I got in "I don't WANNA" mode, I had that reminder that the day would get so much better even if I just got 15 minutes on the elliptical.

What I didn't like about the app I received: If I accidentally clicked "next" before I was done with a page, there was no way to backtrack to the previous page. I also didn't appreciate that if I forgot to fill out the before-bed survey (say, because I also had a resolution to put the iPhone away in the evenings!), I couldn't fill it in the next morning.

Feb. 20 2016 05:28 PM
Karen from MN

I also would like the chat on 2/29 to be recorded and a link sent out, because I can't attend.
Ditto Gwen's comments on number of times worked out in a week and not being asked if I exercised on non exercise days.
The ritual was helpful at first. After a few weeks I stopped doing it, but continued to exercise.
Questions about other influencing factors would provide additional information.
For example, my doctor recommended 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, plus strength training 2-3 days a week, after this study had begun. And my workplace is having additional opportunities for wellness.
I did like the accountability and intention of staying what days I would work out and being asked if today was a workout day.

Feb. 20 2016 04:52 PM
michal from NZ

For those of us with scheduling conflicts, it would be great if you can have this recorded and then made available for those of us who can't make it. :)

Feb. 20 2016 02:58 PM
Ruth Mullen from NYC

Reading everyone else's comments--I'm not even sure my results reached you or were counted, because I never got a "habit" like water sipping or whatever to pair with my exercise. Not sure if I'm a "control subject" or just somehow got left out of the party! Feeling sad. :-(

Feb. 20 2016 02:37 PM

Second a lot of other comments. The data you get from me will be very unreliable, as the app was poorly designed and difficult to use. It asked me to provide feedback/ask questions and said someone would get back to me, which never happened. Wouldn't trust the results from this study very much.

Feb. 20 2016 01:26 PM
Katrina from Plainfield NJ

I am figuring the problems with the app, and the silly rituals, were a ruse covering another, secret, experiment. So 'fess up, Professor!

Feb. 20 2016 11:41 AM

Yeah, I found the app really poorly designed and frustrating. I know it takes a ton of work/money to make a responsive app so I sympathize, but still it was counter-productive to have the alerts pop up at such weird hours. I would get a night-time alert quite early in the evening and think I'd fill it in before I went to bed hours later. But, invariably I would forget about it. And then if i said i hadn't exercised it would ask me how I enjoyed my exercise - it felt like a waste of time to bother answering the questions. I'm usually pretty committed to programs like this but the user experience was discouraging.

I liked the water sipping routine, though. Different numbers of sips for days of the week was the most responsive part of the process! And i did remember to do it when I was at the gym and would feel virtuous, so that's something I guess.

Feb. 20 2016 11:13 AM
D. Arnold from Northern Westchester, NY

Gwen's comment hit the nail on the head.

The surveys didn't work for me. When I exercised, it had nothing to do with the annoying reminders to do the ritual. Why did they never change? I was under the impression that this survey would motivate me to exercise. I'm still waiting for the motivational tips. Where were the motivational tips, did I miss them? Any motivation I have is purely from me.

Feb. 20 2016 11:07 AM
Valerie from Brooklyn

I wonder if everyone was assigned the same habit, or whether some participants were doing something different than I've been doing. Are you trying to see if any habit promotes exercise, or just one particular habit? Also, why a quarter of a glass of water? And why as many sips as days of the week? Most people, I would imagine, drink a lot of water after exercising, not just a quarter of a glass.

Feb. 20 2016 10:46 AM
Meg from Home

The reminder did motivate me, but it sure was a frustrating questionnaire that at least reminded me to drink water. Thanks for being there every day! Namaste😍

Feb. 20 2016 10:45 AM
Gladys B from Queens, NY from Queen, NY

I've always felt that when you put in your mind to do something like exercise and do it
continually for a month as scheduled it becomes a habit. The days may change but
the desire to be consistent remains. The key to this is consistently doing it for a month.
The water sipping to me was insignificant perhaps it works for others, but for me it was very
annoying I didn't do it.

I'm looking forward to listening on February 29 th.

Feb. 20 2016 10:36 AM
Susan from Brooklyn

I found that my commitment to exercise and eating well has stuck. What I learned from Stick to it is that I don't check my phone as often as I thought, and I pretty much never stuck to Stick to It. I'm happier not checking my phone often, so I'll try to find other ways to remain motivated to exercise.
Another thing: it may have worked better for me if the "wake up" time could have been changed to be a different time depending on the day of the week. I don't have a standard 9-5 schedule. Some days I wake at 7am, some days at 5am for work. So getting a reminder at 7am when I've already been up for 2 hours wasn't helpful.
Because of my experience, I'm guessing that you won't get great data. I can't be the only one who did stick to exercising but didn't stick to using your app.

Feb. 20 2016 10:30 AM
Michael Taubman from Brooklyn

I dropped out after only a few days. I couldn't believe how poorly designed and irritating the app was. Not being able to accommodate changing schedules was frustrating, and interrupting me during work was irritating, but waking me up, unbidden, on my one day to sleep in? Deal breaker!

Like Gwen H, I also wondered what was really being tested here. In the end, it felt less like a survey and more like a bait-and-switch opportunity for Ariely to push his app.

Feb. 20 2016 10:30 AM
Patricia D from NYC

This survey was very interesting to me personally and professionally; I'm a CPT and the manager in a small luxury gym. I found the systematic reminders to be very helpful although for a variety of factors I wasn't successful in actually working out. I allegedly am a member of my facility, but dislike working out there since there's always something I feel should have been done as a higher priority before I take personal time & I have no control of when my superiors, vendors & techs will drop in, or when the club will be crowded and I'll have to allow members to defer to members use. However, I cleared my home studio space, not an easy task and one that has been unresolved for months. I found a new gym close to my home for a cost I can afford. It kept my goals in front of me so at least on the days that work did not eat my personal time completely I remembered to move out smartly in order to give my goals a chance. I began the process of getting medical assistance for a painful joint issue that ultimately keeps me from lower body movement. I improved the substrates of exercising, hydration and enough sleep. I'm hopeful I can continue and succeed, and interested how I can help my clients.

Feb. 20 2016 10:26 AM
Cat Dog Pony from New York City

Similar to Gwen's comment, I also felt the survey didn't capture solid data, but for different reasons. I'm currently training for a half marathon so I'm in the gym 6 days a week - I was in the gym 5 days a week prior to the study. I found that after a while I LOATHED the external reminders. I never participated in the ritual first of all, but I actually DID exercise but just couldn't be bothered to check in or complete the survey to report that I actually worked out. I commented/asked how they planned to correct for this behavior. Similar to Gwen, I often wondered if this was about a subject's ability to stick with the check-ins rather than exercise. What elements of consent were altered? Are we getting a debriefing in 2/29 (and yes, I also work in human subjects research...)?

Feb. 20 2016 10:17 AM
Kathleen R from SC

I will not be able to participate in the online chat as I will be working. Any chance of changing the time until after 6pm so that more folks will be able to take part?

Feb. 20 2016 09:00 AM
Gwen H. from MA

I've been so excited for the chance to finally see the results of this but see other people's experience with this.
I'll try to be brief, but no promises.
Basically, what I want to say is this: Was this really a study on exercise, or was it a study on one's patience with a badly designed survey? Caveat - I'm a social researcher and very sensitive to these things. But in any case, if this study was really about exercise, I won't trust the data at all. A few examples why:
My days to work out were every day except Monday and Friday. Of course, I didn't always stick to this schedule. But the issue is that the survey would never have captured exactly what I was doing. There were situations where:
a) It was my day to work out, so it asked 'did you plan to work out today?' and I said, 'Yes', because it was. But then maybe I didn't work out, because I'm a lazy bum, or because I got stuck at work, or whatever. Still, the next question was, 'How much did you enjoy your exercise'. How do I answer this? I didn't enjoy not exercising? I tended to just keep it in the middle and then in the open commenting section say something in all caps along the lines of I DIDN'T WORK OUT WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR SURVEY.
b) It was not my day to work out, so I said as much, but then the survey didn't ask me if I worked out anyway. Often I worked out on days that were not my 'planned' days, but did so anyway (often because I missed my 'planned' days) or whatever. So then I wasn't asked how long I worked out, nor how much I enjoyed it. So then, as with above, there was usually an open ended response in all caps like I WORKED OUT I WANT CREDIT GIVE ME CREDIT PLEASE PLEASE. As this went on, I really became suspicious of this study, and blamed the government and UFOs and all that for doing a mind experiment on me to see where my breaking point was. So then I decided that, despite the survey driving me totally bonkers, I would become more vigilant in filling it out every night because THE ALIENS CAN'T WIN, YOU CAN'T MAKE ME QUIT and etcetera.

After a couple weeks, situation (a) was fixed, but situation (b) above still happened.

So then, one may say, 'oh but at the end of every week we had to say how many times we exercised'. Well, by then I had poor recollection of the specific days - I work a lot and days can blur together - nor even the exact number. So this, for me anyway, isn't very reliable. And anyway, that this survey each week existed made me more suspicious that it was a patience experiment - why else ask the same questions during the week and ask to summarize at the end of the week.

Anyway that's my rant. I guess this comment may be deleted but this is all to say I cannot wait to see these results and their interpretation.

Feb. 20 2016 08:22 AM
Deanna from Western Massachusetts

I found the external accountability helped me exercise more. When the "Sample Size" survey is over, I won't have that external reminder and accountability. Do you anticipate continuing this service in some fashion? Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the study.

Feb. 20 2016 08:21 AM

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