Self-Monitoring and Behaviour Change Report

Introduction: A person’s lifestyle and health are often influenced by their behaviour. Often one will intend to change their lifestyle but in the end, they are unable to change their behaviour through a lack of motivation. Sometimes people change their behaviour for a period of time but are unable to sustain this change due to other influences. In this experiment, I will try to change my exercise regime and sustain this change for fourteen days. My null hypothesis is that I will not change my exercise regime from my baseline period and therefore will not sustain any change.

My alternative hypothesis is that during these fourteen days, I will increase my exercise regime and exercise every day. My motivation for changing my exercise regime is to lose weight and become fit. Method: I first measured my baseline period of exercise during seven days. This baseline period was a control for this experiment. During this period of time, I had to consider what aspect of my lifestyle I was going to change. The behaviour that I decided to change was the use of my car when going lectures and into town.

I decided to only use my car after dark and to walk to lectures. Also I decided to attend regular aerobics, step and spinfit classes at my local gym. The independent variable measured in this experiment was my motivation to change my exercise behaviour. The dependent variable measured was the minutes of exercise I did each day. I decided that after participating in exercise, I would reward myself by having a nice bath or watching a film. Also my motivation came from booking the classes in advance and a fee would have been charged if I did not arrive for the exercise classes.

Result: (refer to table 1 and graph 1) During the baseline/control period, I was only active for three of the seven days and on average, I did 12. 8 minutes of exercise per day. On Days 1 and 4, I walked into town and to my lectures. Day 2 was the only day in which I did an hour of exercise at the gym. I was lazy on day 3. On days 5-7, I had course work to complete. This quantity of exercise should not have increased from my normal lifestyle activity. During the 14 days of changing my exercise regime, I did on average 21. 4 minutes per day. On days 8, 10, 12, and 14, I participated in the gym classes and did an hour per session.

On days 9, 11, 19, and 21, I did between 10 – 25 minutes of exercise. For example, on days 9/11, I walked to the supermarket/shops and back instead of driving. On days 19 and 21, I walked to and from lectures. I had a bad cold on days 13-18. On day 20, I was lazy and lacked motivation. Hence intervention was successful for myself but I was unable to sustain motivation for it during the last week. Discussion: Before I started this experiment, my attitude towards my exercise behaviour was that ‘I currently exercise a little but not regularly’.

My view of exercise, before the experiment, was that it enabled myself to control my weight. Hence the perceived benefit of exercise was to ‘enhance the self-concept of individual’1. Also I felt I was putting on weight and my motivation was my perceived benefit to try and lose it. However, in relation to the health belief model, there was also perceived susceptibility, severity and cost in my attitude towards exercise prior to the experiment. I believed in the negative view of health or the biomedical model of absence of disease.

I did not think that I would get ill from such diseases like coronary heart disease. My perceived susceptibility was unrealistic optimism. My perceived severity was that by the age of being susceptible to such diseases, I would have started to exercise. My perceived cost was giving up my time to study for my course. This perceived cost occurred in days 5-7 of my baseline period where I had assignments to be handed in. Thus during the baseline period, I had to re-evaluate my beliefs towards exercise and prepare myself to change it.

This baseline period was my cue of action. During the intervention, I had to have self-efficacy. For the majority of the fourteen days, I managed to change my beliefs to that of the biopsychosocial model. However, it was not just my beliefs that had to be changed. I had to unlearn my lazy regime and carry out a regime, which differed from the norm. To re-learn to do exercise, I had to provide myself with rewards after each exercise period. This was the instrumental conditioning learning and the reinforcement was often watching a film.

Also after each exercise bout, I would have a bath and would relax my muscles, which made me feel good. Hence classical conditioning would allow myself to not relate my exercise periods to the pain of exercise but to the relaxation afterwards. During the fourteen days of exercise, I had to resolve my barriers by changing my lifestyle slightly. I have to make time for exercise and incorporate it in to my daily schedule. This was difficult to do every day and in days 9, 11, 13, and 20, I could not fulfil my maximum exercise period of an hour.

On Days 13-18, I felt ill and it would be more detrimental to my health to exercise. Thus extinction occurred during this period and relationship between relaxation in the bath and exercise was dissolved. I could not continue my motivation on days 18- 21 due to extinction occurring. There were errors in this experiment, which could have affected the results. The class was given the assignment to change their behaviour from day one of baseline period. Since I had to evaluate my behaviour towards the exercise period, this could have affected the quantity of exercise I did in the baseline period.

Hence continual thought about the experiment could have resulted in more exercise done in baseline period. The results would have then shown reactivity, which occurred independent of intervention. Also human error could have occurred by miscalculating the time spent exercising, not recording exercising on the day of participation and untruthful results. Careful and truthful monitoring could have controlled these errors. Intervention was successful for myself because I manage to increase my exercise quantity from the baseline period during the fourteen day trial.

I did not show a gradual increase in exercise quantity in the baseline and exercising period. Hence thinking about the assignment had little effect on my baseline period results. If this experiment were to be replicated by myself, I would carry it out during a period where I did not have any perceived costs. Also I would increase the time period of monitoring and evaluate if sustaining of intervention and motivation occurred. Overall, the null hypothesis was rejected and the alternative hypothesis of this experiment was accepted.

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