Do You Need a “Jolt” to Work Out?

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Is it a great behavioral motivator, or just the latest in a long line of questionable fitness trends? With a new fitness tool that’s literally “shocking,” exercisers can actually receive an electric shock to remind them to work out! A fitness band is nothing new – in fact, many have come to rely on their fitness bands as an indispensable piece of workout equipment because you can track your workouts, set and track goals, and even keep up with how much sleep you’re getting, all in one place. However, no matter how well your band works, it still can’t make you change your behavior, hence a new fitness band trend that goes above and beyond merely tracking your progress, it actually delivers around 340 volts of electricity to your wrist if you miss your workout! Genius? Or disturbing?

People need motivation to do things they know they should be doing, but put off, like quitting a bad habit, choosing not to eat something unhealthy, and for many, sticking to their workout regimen. We all know that a consistent workout is good for us, and that we’ll feel better when it’s over, but for many people, getting started takes a lot of determination. Science has studied behavior and response to stimulus for many years, most famously with the discovery by Pavlov that a dog could be trained to salivate when a bell rang if he’s learned that food will follow. So, can people be trained to exercise if they are buzzed with over 300 volts of electricity?

It’s not as bad as it initially sounds. The voltage contained in the new fitness bands would feel like the buzz you get from static electricity, not the type of electricity delivered in, say, the low setting of a taser. People likely won’t be passing out because their fitness bands are that shocking. But the company behind the first band to utilize this new behavioral motivator, Pavlok (get it?), wanted to give customers a concrete way for them to hold themselves accountable when they say they’re going to work out. Every person knows how tempting and persuasive those other choices – extra sleep! sitting on the couch! – can be when it comes to actually getting on the workout clothes and getting out the door.

With this new type of fitness band, the wearer programs in his goals. If a goal is met, there are rewards that are part and parcel of buying the band, such as gift cards or free gym time. If a goal is missed, the consequences start: Pavlok may allow you to pay another wristband user, or receive the electric shock. Other wrist band users, or even friends, can be the ones who decide what your consequences will be. Plus, with enough time missing goals, your brain will be on its way to forming a new habit because it has learned to associate not working out with a negative consequence.

The final verdict on these bands with a jolt may not be out for a while, since Pavlok won’t offer their product until 2015. In the meantime, is this a tool that is worth using? As with most other choices, it all comes down to what will work for you individually. Is your biggest workout issue the inability to get started? Do you tend to give into your excuses . . . a lot? Do you need a bit of external motivation? Then you may benefit from a tool like this workout band. No matter what tools you choose for yourself, what’s most important is that it works to keep you heading along the path to health and wellness so you can live a high quality, long life.

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