That’s how long it really takes to learn a new habit –

Plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote in 1960 that it would only take three weeks for your new habit to become a routine. Because of his extremely popular book, this idea has taken on a life of its own. But none of it is true.

The number is based on Maltz’s observations of how long it took his patients to get used to their new faces. While this has nothing to do with behavior change, there are still many people who believe that you can become an avid runner in a matter of weeks or give up chocolate altogether.

Hand washing and sports
American researchers are making short work of that promise. she data used From 30,000 gym-goers who exercised 12 million times in four years. They also studied data from 3,000 hospital employees who washed their hands 40 million times in nearly 100 shifts.

Using machine learning, they were able to learn how long it takes for people’s behavior to become predictable — and therefore habitual. the answer? This varies greatly usually. Before going to the gym is routine, it takes a long time, on average about six months. Hand washing can be learned in just a few weeks.

It’s not a magic number
“Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic number for the time it takes to develop a habit. It takes months to get to the gym regularly, while washing hands becomes normal within weeks,” the researchers wrote.

It turns out that it’s important for athletes to be flexible and consistent: It doesn’t really matter which days they visit the gym, as long as they keep going. If they had not been there for a long time, the chance of them returning was slim. Two-thirds of the athletes went on specific days, with Mondays and Tuesdays particularly popular. In total, it took four to seven months to learn this new habit, more than twice as long as previous research had shown.

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Big differences
Because, of course, it’s not the first study since 1960 to look at the time it takes to form a habit. in 2009 I finish Researchers said it took about two months for people to develop a daily habit, such as eating breakfast. But the differences were significant among the 96 volunteers. Some learned the habit in eighteen days, while others took 254 days.

The big difference with previous studies is that the results are now based not on questionnaires that participants fill out themselves, but on hard data: The athletes scanned their cards every time they visited the gym and hospital staff also had to scan their ID cards. time before washing their hands.

sources): ScienceAlert

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