“Stick to It! – Can rituals help you exercise more?”

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So what did we find?

Takeaway 1: Rituals help you exercise more, but they don’t necessarily help you enjoy it more.

Takeaway 2: Rituals had stronger effects on the Fabulous App than on the SSM App.

Dan, “SSM was really designed for surveys, and I suspect that the platform was not ideal for testing our rituals (it was not designed for it). People had to keep more of the ritual in their minds before and after exercising instead of getting a timely push notification, and because of this, this app was less effective. Another difference is that SSM was designed to send people reminders, and indeed everyone using this app had daily reminders for evening checkins. These reminders might have created a ritual for the control condition (and thus helping the control group exercise more) and there might have been a bit too much reminders for the ritual conditions. As one participant stated, ‘Checking in on the app (daily) felt more like the ritual than the water drinking.'”

Takeaway 3: There was no consistent evidence that one ritual worked better than another. That said, we know the two less elaborate rituals were less effective.

Takeaway 4: Rituals work better for some depending on religiosity and personality.
Rituals work better for those who are non-religious (e.g., on FAB, non-religious participants on average exercise 0.43 times more per week in ritual groups compared to those in control group, whereas religious participants on average exercise 0.1 times more per week in ritual groups compared to those in control group. Rituals also work better for those who are less disciplined, or less active before joining the study (old exercise frequency <2 times/week); and it works less well for those who have no aspiration to improve (targeted frequency <= old frequency).