Keystone Habits

domino trail

Start the “Chain”

Creative Commons LicenseIn Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, he writes about “keystone habits.”  Keystone habits are those habits that have the power to start a chain effect.  That is, establishing a keystone habit leads to the establishment of other good habits—almost effortlessly (I wrote about something similar this week, but I labeled it “strategic goals“).  Here’s a quote from the book:

“Studies examining the impacts of exercise on daily routines show that people who start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, start changing other unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly.  Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work.  They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family.  They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed…  For most people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.  There’s something about it that makes other good habits easier” (emphases mine). 

Note the statement that I bolded in the previous paragraph.  “For most people, exercise is a keystone habit.”  Those who establish the habit of exercise can probably expect other good habits to follow—and without near as much effort as it took to develop the exercise habit.  I can vouch for this statement, as I have experienced it in my own life.  I wrote a little about this in Success Breeds Success.  Starting the running habit has led to so many other positive changes in my life—physical ones, mental ones, even spiritual ones.

That is why I am encouraging you, my readers, to fully commit to some kind of exercise program—walking, running, biking, etc.  Because I care about you.  Because I want you to experience the endorphin high.  Because I want you to enjoy the bonus changes that will follow the exercise habit.  If you haven’t already joined the 30-day challenge, may I encourage you to make the leap and commit to 30 days of exercise?  And to give you some added help and incentive, let me tell you about an exciting app I just learned about.

GymPact is a program whereby you make a “pact” (i.e., a promise to yourself) to exercise X number of days a week.  If you keep your pact, you get paid. If you don’t keep your pact, you pay!  How’s that for incentive?!  I love it!

Now, I know you’re bursting with questions, so here’s the link to GymPact.  Click on the “How It Works” button on the linked page to see a quick video that summarizes the program.  Here’s the link to the GymPact Support Center (aka, Frequently Asked Questions).  This will answer your questions—how do I get paid, how do I pay, how often do I have to exercise, how do they know if I have exercised or not, etc.  Unfortunately, it appears that the app is only available on the iPhone at this time, but it is being developed for Android.

Also, GymPact has just hooked up with Runkeeper, an app that I wrote about in My Favorite Fitness App.  This is significant because prior to the Runkeeper/GymPact partnership , you apparently had to go to a gym and “check in” to verify you were working out.  With Runkeeper, you can work out anywhere—walk, run, bike—and the GPS will verify your workout.  So if that’s important to you, you will need to integrate Runkeeper with GymPact.  You can do that here.

I am really excited about GymPact.  Why?  Well, it’s not because I expect to make a lot of money with it, but I think it could really help some who need that extra little push to stay consistent with their fitness endeavors.  I’ve signed up myself just because it may tip the scales for me on one of my “lazy days.”  I am going to take it slow and easy at the beginning as I test out the program, but in the near future, I may use it to help me incorporate at least a day a week of biking into my routine.

Are you already using GymPact?  How about sharing with the rest of us via a comment what you think of it?  What about Runkeeper?  You know I’m sold on it.  Do you use it?  If so, I would be honored if you would be part of my “street team.”  I love to cheer and be cheered on in fitness endeavors.  Leave me a comment, and I’ll tell you how to find me on RK.

Have you taken on a new 30-day challenge this month?  Please tell me about it in the comments.  I love hearing from you!

Photo compliments of Lori C. via Compfight

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4 Responses to Keystone Habits

  1. Hi Diane great post. I have Charles’ book watching me from my bookcase ready to be read in a week or so when I finish a big project I’m working on at the moment. Looking forward to establishing some keystone habits…. in a very strategic way! My new challenge is to drink 2 large glasses of water each day! Emily

    • Diane says:

      I very much enjoyed the book, Emily. Let me know what you think about it. Your new challenge is similar to Cindy Lofton’s. Check it out in the comments.

  2. Cindy Lofton says:

    Diane, here’s my 30-day challenge update: I’ve started 2 different ones over the past month or so that require me to get up at certain times each day. I have struggled! But I realize this may not be a realistic goal for me right now since I’m getting up multiple times at night with our 6-mo-old, and I just have to get sleep when I can. Once she starts sleeping through the night, I would like to do this challenge again & really build consistency & discipline in this area b/c I REALLY need it.

    Instead, I’m going to start a new 30-day challenge tomorrow that will require me to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. In doing this, I hope to condition my taste buds & my mind for things that are good for me, and not go straight to the coffee pot to wake me up or ‘indulge’ myself, even. Plus, if I’m exercising in the mornings, I can’t be drinking coffee or eating junk before I do that (even though I have!), so I just want to build a habit of doing what’s good for me first. I am hoping this will lead to other healthy habits in my life, too. I like the idea of a keystone habit. I totally agree that exercise is one.

    • Diane says:

      Cindy, I so agree. Getting up at 5 a.m. is not feasible (or good for you) when you are still getting up in the night with a baby. But I admire your drive! I like the strategy in your new 30-day challenge.

I love to read your comments!