Often, when people start on an exercise program, or a fitness program, they use their weight and waist size to monitor their progress. While this is technically not an exercise or fitness program, it may still be tempting to use weight and measurements in my progress reports.
Findings from a study published in the journal Circulation, which looked at almost 14,400 middle-aged men and then tracked them over 11 years found that those who became more fit during the study period (as measured by aerobic intensity test on a treadmill), or those who maintained their fitness were at lower overall risk of dying from heart disease or dying from any cause. This was true even if their weight stayed the same or went up, compared to men whose fitness levels dipped over time. Lead researcher Duck-chul Lee said in a statement “You can worry less about your weight as long as you continue to maintain or increase your fitness levels.” This study examined men who were at an acceptable weight, or slightly overweight. It did not study obese men. Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/fit-vs-fat-which-matters-more-for-a-long-life-1.737104#ixzz217aBpZTV
A study done in Minneapolis in 2008 found that regular weight monitoring in obese adults did encourage weight loss. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18976879. A previous study in South Carolina in 2005 came to the same conclusion: regular monitoring encouraged weight loss. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16242064.
This discussion of what motivates people to learn or change has been going on in our school systems for quite a while. In that setting, the decision is to assign a grade, or to write an evaluation. More and more schools, including colleges and universities. are finding that objective evaluations provide just as much or more motivation to students to learn. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4618720&sc=emaf and http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/01/22/grades#.UAREd11JZzY.email.
In the end, there is always a measurement of some sort. Whether it is a University scholarship, landing a job, a personal best, or a gold medal, it is up to the individual to decide what motivates them and find the areas that reward those things.
As organizations, schools and individuals, we need to recognize that different people have different motivators. We need to provide rewards for a variety of motivators in order to have a balanced society, productive workers, happy students, and fit athletes.