Top 5 Tools for creating Health Habits Rosemary Ehlers
New technology has irrevocably changed society –the way we communicate, do business, find information, even have fun. What are some of the ways these new technologies have been used to update old behavior change methods, or create completely new ones? Notes and Reminders – Traditional methods using new technologies Community & Social Rewards – Taking advantage of the internet’s ability to connect people and form communities Healthy Entertainment – Bringing physicality back into digital media Mobile – Combining information, ability, and trigger Physical Triggers – Using new technologies to improve on traditional methods
A stickynote? That's sooo 1999! Okay, so they're still useful. But with all these new technologies and new spaces we constantly check for communication and information, it's important to give our note & reminder systems an update, too. Ohdon'tforget.com allows you to text pre-scheduled reminders to yourself --or anyone else.
Peer Pressure Power Well, hopefully the community of SparkPeople is more supportive than pressuring, but still don't underestimate the importance of joining a community of people who share your goals, or the power of some small social recognition for your efforts. SparkPeople.com combines both of these, with a system that awards points for activities as simple as reading informational articles with various ways of leveraging the power of community --discussing solutions others have used, having others motivate you when you just want to give up, etc.
Exercise is fun !! It's certainly easier to create a habit of it if it is, anyways. I'm actually dubious about the entertainment or health values of the WiiFit, but I think it's exploring a really good idea --with the amount of digital entertainment people do these days, combining exercise with a more modern form of entertainment is surely a path to success. WiiFit combines tools for tracking your body's BMI and performance at various health exercises with games designed to improve your balance, aerobic ability, muscle tone, strength, etc.
The world in the palm of your hand Mobile technology is incredibly powerful, and the thing I notice most about habit-related mobile apps is the ability to merge both trigger and the user’s ability. ProactiveSleep makes it easy for users to record their sleep habits by being right there when they wake up –no need to shuffle over to your computer, wait for it to boot up, log in and get online… Supplementary activities such as games to help wake you up are available right when you need them.
Some things never get old. Don’t forget the power of physical triggers! Something that reminds you or motivates you, put in a place where it will do the most good, can be incredibly helpful. With all the overwhelming technology and information available today, sometimes it pays to use more traditional methods. Zazzle.com is actually an excellent tool to facilitate this –Zazzle allows you to create your own designs to print on mugs, posters, tshirts, shoes –anything and everything. (Okay, so the poster isn’t from Zazzle, but it could be.)
<ul><li>I've tried to highlight a few of the ways technology can help form healthy habits: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- have triggers occupy the same mental space as the user (ohdon'tforget.com) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- have healthy activities take a form that the user is already familiar with and likes (WiiFit) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- help the user find and join a supportive community (SparkPeople) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- minimize the distance between the trigger and the activity (ProactiveSleep) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- enable the user to customize triggers so that they are as helpful as possible (Zazzle) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These five technologies are examples of getting it right. </li></ul>