Digital Prods Help Execs Exercise

Last Updated Sep 10, 2008 2:17 PM EDT

excersize.JPGHarried execs are bombarded each day by distractions from other C-suiters, board directors, HR functionaries, financial advisers, clients, regulators, charity moneyraisers, favor seekers, and so on.

No big surprise if they forget some critically important personal requirements that might keep them fit if not alive.

Stanford University may have a solution. You need a nagging reminder to exercise and that could well be your cell phone, personal digital assistant, or even old-fashioned land line.

A recent piece titled "iProd: Forget willpower. What you need is a digital nagging device" notes that Abby King, a Stanford professor of health research and director of a lab at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, believes electronic devices are the way to go.

I know what you're thinking. "I get a thousand messages each day. If my cell phone goes off with instructions to do some leg squats, the damned thing is going through the window." But Prof. King's evidence shows that the digital prod really works.

Digital prodding does help people, including execs, to walk briskly 150 minutes a week or eat more veggies and whole grains. King's research shows that the vast majority of the study sample would prefer that an actual human made the reminders, but in the end it may not matter.

Indeed, King's research shows that machines have more success reminding people than friends or family.

Even less sophisticated devices than digital Blackberrys or Palms can be effective. Simple pedometers can be a constant push to walk more. Just having one somehow is remembrance enough. Before you know it, the individual is following the Japanese tradition of manpo-kei or walking 10,000 steps, or about five miles, every day.

It could be a great way to keep weight off, live longer and beat the pants off your business competition.

(Image by Pscitticine via Flickr, CC 2.0)