How Harry Potter virtual running groups helped me conquer my depressionI dread solo runs the way the average person hates tax time. The solitary nature of the run forces me to turn inward, and as a goal-oriented overachiever with a fear of failure, I hate the introspection that these runs cultivate. The thought of spending hours wrestling with my body, willing it to keep going, with no distractions and no community support makes me question my sanity. I've tried all of the recommended tips and mental tricks, as well as fitness gadgets and apps to make solo running for long distances better. Only one thing has done the trick: virtual runs.
Feet feats and fleet minds: lessons from Alex Hutchinson’s new book EndureAlex Hutchinson’s excellent new book Endure poses an age-old question. What matters more for athletic achievement — mind or body? It takes a dozen fascinating chapters to get fully there, but Hutchinson’s ultimate answer is simple: yes.
Building a better 'bot': Artificial intelligence helps human groups -- ScienceDailyIn a series of experiments using teams of human players and robotic AI players, the inclusion of "bots" boosted the performance of human groups and the individual players, researchers found. The study appears in the May 18 edition of the journal Nature. "Much of the current conversation about artificial intelligence has to do with whether AI is a substitute for human beings. We believe the conversation should be about AI as a complement to human beings," said Nicholas Christakis, co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science (YINS) and senior author of the study. Christakis is a professor of sociology, ecology & evolutionary biology, biomedical engineering, and medicine at Yale. The study adds to a growing body of Yale research into the complex dynamics of human social networks and how those networks influence everything from economic inequality to group violence. In this case, Christakis and first author Hirokazu Shirado conducted an experiment involving an online game that required groups of people to coordinate their actions for a collective goal. The human players also interacted with anonymous bots that were programmed with three levels of behavioral randomness -- meaning the AI bots sometimes deliberately made mistakes. In addition, sometimes the bots were placed in different parts of the social network. More than 4,000 people participated in the experiment, which used a Yale-developed software called breadboard. "We mixed people and machines into one system, interacting on a level playing field," Shirado explained. "We wanted to ask, 'Can you program the bots in simple ways?' and does that help human performance?" The answer to both questions is yes, the researchers said. Not only did the inclusion of bots aid the overall performance of human players, it proved particularly beneficial when tasks became more difficult, the study found. The bots accelerated the median time for groups to solve problems by 55.6%. Furthermore, the researchers said, the experiment showed a cascade effect of improved performance by humans in the study. People whose performance improved when working with the bots subsequently influenced other human players to raise their game.
We're motivated to stay ahead more than to catch up? (Relates to fear of losing?)Peer effects in running are also heterogeneous across relationship types. For example, runners are more influenced by peers whose performance is slightly worse, but not far worse, than their own as well as by those who perform slightly better, but not far better, than they do (Fig. 2a). Moreover, less active runners influence more active runners more than more active runners influence less active runners (Fig. 2b). These results are corroborated by heterogeneity across consistent and inconsistent runners. Inconsistent runners influence consistent runners more than consistent runners influence inconsistent runners (Fig. 2c). Social comparisons may provide an explanation for these results. Festinger’s social comparison theory proposes that we self-evaluate by comparing ourselves to others27. But, in the context of exercise, a debate exists about whether we make upward comparisons to those performing better than ourselves28 or downward comparisons to those performing worse than ourselves29. Comparisons to those ahead of us may motivate our own self-improvement, while comparisons to those behind us may create ‘competitive behaviour to protect one’s superiority’ (27, p. 126). Our findings are consistent with both arguments, but the effects are much larger for downward comparisons than for upward comparisons.
Health Hacks for the HolidaysMake your exercise commitment small enough so that there is no way you can’t fit it in.
Holiday Challenge Participant - Motivated to Walk! - Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh LessI now use every opportunity to walk more and increase my steps, sometimes thinking outside the box. For example, at the airport. Yesterday, my flight landed at ATL and I had 1 hr 10 mins to catch my next flight. I landed at Concourse A and instead of taking the train to Concourse B for my flight – I decided to get a fast paced walk in. I walked from my gate on Concourse A to Concourse E and then back to Concourse B for my next flight. I did not use walking escalator nor the train and I walked 1.28 miles. I still had some time at our gate and so decided to walk the B Concourse from gate to end and back to gate and added another ½ mile. So instead of sitting around wasting time with iPhone or eating Bon Bons, I walked almost 2 miles and feel great, a little sweaty but great!
Find your motivation to run across Iceland! - Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh LessRacery serves as an amazing (and judgement-free) daily reminder to be active. You know that if you haven’t done something by 4 pm, their email will arrive and encourage you to get out and move.
What Is Fatigue? - The New YorkerAs the cyclists pedalled, a screen in front of them periodically flashed images of happy or sad faces in imperceptible sixteen-millisecond bursts, ten to twenty times shorter than a typical blink. The cyclists who were shown sad faces rode, on average, twenty-two minutes and twenty-two seconds. Those who were shown happy faces rode for three minutes longer and reported less of a sense of exertion. In a second experiment, the researchers demonstrated that subliminal action words (GO, LIVELY) could boost a subject’s cycling performance by seventeen per cent over inaction words (TOIL, SLEEP).
I Finally Found My Motivation - And Ran from Paris to Amsterdam! | Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh LessEat Smart, Move More, Weigh LessI paid for races to jumpstart my motivation, but eventually even shelling out $75 for a race was not enough to pressure me into exercising regularly. My well of joy for running had totally dried up. After 5 years of hunkering down into my non-running funk, I finally discovered my magic bullet: virtual racing. I was invited into an online race through Racery.com, and it made running purely fun, social, and extremely motivating. I also uncovered a competitive side I never knew I had!
I Finally Found My Motivation - And Ran from Paris to Amsterdam! | Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh LessEat Smart, Move More, Weigh LessAfter 5 years of hunkering down into my non-running funk, I finally discovered my magic bullet: virtual racing.
What's a virtual race? We're still learning.Though our routes are made of pixels, they’re measured by real blood, sweat and tears.
Selfish or altruistic? Brain connectivity reveals hidden motivesDuring the study, participants were placed in an fMRI scanner and made altruistic decisions driven by an empathy motive (the desire to help a person for whom one feels empathy) or a reciprocity motive (the desire to reciprocate an individual's previous kindness). Simply looking at the functional activity of specific regions of the brain couldn't reveal the motive underlying the decisions. Broadly speaking, the same areas in the brain lit up in both settings. "However, using Dynamic Causal Modeling (DCM) analyses, we could investigate the interplay between these brain regions and found marked differences between empathy- based and reciprocity-based decisions," explains Grit Hein. "The impact of the motives on the interplay between different brain regions was so fundamentally different that it could be used to classify the motive of a person with high accuracy" she continues.
Variable rewards rock again!In a series of experiments, the researchers found that the majority of children and adults chose a half-sized portion paired with a toy or monetary prize over a full-sized portion without a toy or monetary prize. The price of the two options was kept the same. Great, right? But it gets better. Not only can a small prize motivate the healthier meal choice, but, in fact, the mere prospect of getting it is more motivating than the prize itself. In other words, the researchers found that people were more likely to choose a smaller meal for the chance to win a $10 lottery than to get a guaranteed reward. The premiums in the study were the chance to win $10, $50 or $100.
Why raceI learned that was drives me is not the thrill of competition, but rather, the thrill of exploring this beautiful world in the most natural, primal way I know how: on foot. Now that running is my job, I sometimes run up to the Puigmal, lay on the ground, being present and noticing the tiny, simple details, just like any other animal.
OverreactingBut for many entrepreneurs, the battle wounds never fully heal. That was the case for John Pope, CEO of WellDog, a Laramie, Wyoming-based energy technology firm. On Dec. 11, 2002, Pope had exactly $8.42 in the bank. He was 90 days late on his car payment. He was 75 days behind on the mortgage. The IRS had filed a lien against him. His home phone, cell phone, and cable TV had all been turned off. In less than a week, the natural-gas company was scheduled to suspend service to the house he shared with his wife and daughters. Then there would be no heat. His company was expecting a wire transfer from the oil company Shell, a strategic investor, after months of negotiations had ended with a signed 380-page contract. So Pope waited. The wire arrived the next day. Pope--along with his company--was saved. Afterward, he made a list of all the ways in which he had financially overreached. "I'm going to remember this," he recalls thinking. "It's the farthest I'm willing to go." Since then, WellDog has taken off: In the past three years, sales grew more than 3,700 percent, to $8 million, making the company No. 89 on the Inc. 500. But emotional residue from the years of tumult still lingers. "There's always that feeling of being overextended, of never being able to relax," says Pope. "You end up with a serious confidence problem. You feel like every time you build up security, something happens to take it away." Pope sometimes catches himself emotionally overreacting to small things. It's a behavior pattern that reminds him of posttraumatic stress disorder. "Something happens, and you freak out about it," he says.
July 9, 1968 - Jogging: The Newest Road to Fitness | Chicago Tribune ArchiveTwo attorneys for the Cook county public defenders office, Andre Mande- ville, 44, of 1546 Wieland st., and Ted Gottfied, 27, of 859 Belden av., keep themselves jogging by not wanting to be the first one to quit. "A lot of us need incentive from someone else," Mandeville said. "My partner never misses a morning, and I feel guilty when for some reason I do."
What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?University of Rochester psychologist Ed Deci, for example, found that teachers who aim to control students' behavior—rather than helping them control it themselves—undermine the very elements that are essential for motivation: autonomy, a sense of competence, and a capacity to relate to others. This, in turn, means they have a harder time learning self-control, an essential skill for long-term success. Stanford University's Carol Dweck, a developmental and social psychologist, has demonstrated that even rewards—gold stars and the like—can erode children's motivation and performance by shifting the focus to what the teacher thinks, rather than the intrinsic rewards of learning.
Just Feeling Like Part of a Team Increases Motivation on Challenging Tasks - Association for Psychological ScienceAcross five experiments Stanford psychological scientists Priyanka B. Carr and Gregory M. Walton concluded that even subtle suggestions of being part of a team dramatically increased people’s motivation and enjoyment in relation to difficult tasks, leading to greater perseverance and engagement and even higher levels of performance.
Charismatic leaders helped by perception of mortal threatsFor example, the researchers asked students to think about death or a control topic and then read statements supposedly written by gubernatorial candidates of varying leadership styles. You are not just an ordinary citizen, you are part of a special state and a special nation, the charismatic leader said. I can accomplish all the goals that I set out to do. I am very careful in laying out a detailed blueprint of what needs to be done so that there is no ambiguity, a task-oriented leader said. I encourage all citizens to take an active role in improving their state. I know that each individual can make a difference, the relationship-oriented leader said. Participants then picked the candidate they would vote for. After thinking about a control topic, four of 95 people chose the charismatic leader. After a death reminder, that candidate’s votes increased nearly eightfold. Such results, the psychologists wrote, suggested that "close elections could be decided as a result of nonrational terror-management concerns."
Lurking, death nigglesWhile thinking about death directly, Pyszczynski says, folks do rational things to get away from it, like trying to get healthy. It’s when death lurks on the fringes of consciousness that they cling to worldviews and seek self-esteem. "That helps explain why these ideas might seem strange to some people," says Pyszczynski, a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. "You can’t really introspect on it. While you’re thinking about death, this isn’t what you do."
The calendar motivates usA lot of people want to lose weight. But when, exactly, do they think about dieting? Using Google searches, Dai and his colleagues found that people look up the word “diet” a lot more at the beginning of the week, month and year. […]One study of almost 12,000 students at a large university found that the start of each week, month and year brings a large increase in gym attendance. And in the month following the average undergraduate's birthday, he or she is much more likely to go to the gym -- an effect as great as that produced by keeping the gym open for two more hours.
Yahoo's staff ratings killed moraleOne of the uglier parts of the process was a series of quarterly “calibration meetings,” in which managers would gather with their bosses and review all the employees under their supervision. In practice, the managers would use these meetings to conjure reasons that certain staff members should get negative reviews. Sometimes the reason would be political or superficial. Mayer herself attended calibration meetings where these kinds of arbitrary judgments occurred. The senior executives who reported to Mayer would join her in a meeting at Phish Food and hold up spreadsheets of names and ratings. During the revamping of Yahoo Mail, for instance, Kathy Savitt, the C.M.O., noted that Vivek Sharma was bothering her. “He just annoys me,” she said during the meeting. “I don’t want to be around him.” Sharma’s rating was reduced. Shortly after Yahoo Mail went live, he departed for Disney.
Research at Stanford shows that working together boosts motivationTheir findings showed that when people were treated as though they were working together they: Persisted 48 to 64 percent longer on a challenging task Reported more interest in the task Became less tired by having to persist on the task – presumably because they enjoyed it Became more engrossed in the task and performed better on it Finally, when people were encouraged to reflect on how their interest in the puzzle was relevant to their personal values and identity, people chose to do 53 percent more related tasks in a separate setting one to two weeks later. "The results showed that simply feeling like you're part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges," said Walton. Moreover, the results reflect an increase in motivation – not a sense of obligation, competition or pressure to join others in an activity.
I called out to my husband: “See you later. I’m running with the big dogs. I’ve got a gang now, you know.” I could hear the song from the recent Lego movie in my head: “Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when we’re part of a team.” When I arrived at the coffee shop where we usually meet, Tina was already there with another runner. I’d messaged her the night before, asking whether the new runner was a Speedy Gonzales. “I don’t understand,” she’d texted back. I initially thought she didn’t understand my reference. I’m more than a decade older than she is, and when I saw her at the coffee shop tried to explain who Speedy Gonzales was. “I know who he is,” she said. “I’m just tired of people complaining about how slow they are.” The other woman chimed in that she was slow, though I wasn’t sure I believed her. She’d just come from swimming laps at the local pool. I’d just come from my bed.