How To Increase The Motivation To Get Healthy

The key to eating healthily, reducing alcohol consumption and exercising more.

The key to eating healthily, reducing alcohol consumption and exercising more.

Visualisation is the psychological key to getting more exercise and improving diet, research finds.

Visualising eating healthily, reducing alcohol consumption and exercising more all help people change their behaviour.

The more people visualise the necessary behaviours, the more motivated they become to change.

Professor Martin Hagger, study co-author, said:

“There are strong links between chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes and behaviour, and imagery-based interventions offer an inexpensive, effective way of promoting healthy behaviours such as physical activity and healthy eating.

We found that people who simply visualised the steps necessary to do the healthy behaviour on a regular basis were more likely to be motivated, and actually do, the healthy behaviour.”

The researchers synthesised the results of 26 different studies to test the optimum circumstances for visualisation.

They revealed that imagery worked better when:

  • People were given text message reminders,
  • the visualisation lasted longer,
  • and they had detailed instructions.

Professor Hagger said:

“Previous studies have shown that imagery interventions have been used in various contexts including enhancing athletes’ performance, flight simulation training for aircraft pilots and for symptom relief in hospital settings.

Our research shows that imagery is also effective for promoting participation in healthy behaviours.

Our findings may not only be of interest to health professionals around the world, but could be of interest and potentially implemented within other industries.”

The study was published in the journal Health Psychology (Conroy & Hagger, 2018).

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

Get free email updates

Join the free PsyBlog mailing list. No spam, ever.