From Time By Alexandra Sifferlin: A new small study suggests you might benefit most when you make big lifestyle changes at the same time
To make healthy changes, it’s long been recommended that people start with a small tweak to their lifestyle, and build upon it. But a new small study suggests that embracing a wide variety of healthier behaviors at once, including changes to diet and exercise, may be even more beneficial.
What the researchers found in a recent study, the New York Times reports, was that people who changed several aspects of their life to be healthier saw bigger improvements in their mood and stress levels compared to people in other trials who changed just one part of their lifestyle. The study was very small, with only about 30 college students. Half of them went about their days as normal, while the other half changed their behaviors significantly, by doing exercises in the morning, including stretching and resistance training, and attending an hour-long session in meditation and stress reduction. A couple times a week they also increased the intensity of their workouts and learned about sleep and nutrition, and they met with instructors to discuss personal challenges and were encouraged to partake in random acts of kindness.
Before they started the interventions, men and women in the study underwent physical and cognitive tests, including graduate comprehension exams, as well as brain scans. A few weeks later they repeated the tests and brain scans and the researchers found that the control group performed the same, but the students with intensive behavior changes were more focus and reported improved happiness and memory.