The Science behind Monday
The key to health behavior change is to create healthy habits that can be sustained over time. A growing body of evidence suggests that healthy thinking and behavior is synchronized to the week, with Monday being the day people are most “open to buy” health. Monday can thus be a powerful leverage point in public health promotions to help people stay on track with their health goals.
Monday has a special significance in our culture as the beginning of the week, which influences our mood and health outcomes
The 7-day week and the meaning we associate with the days of the week is a social construct, and not based on biological or planetary cycles. Yet a range of negative health outcomes, such as heart attacks and strokes, happen more frequently on Mondays as people transition back to the structured routine of the week.[i]
While 27% of people report that Monday is the day they experience the most stress, 58% of people see Monday positively, as an opportunity for a “fresh start” and a day to “get my act together.” [ii]
There’s a surge in healthy contemplations and actions on Monday.
An analysis of health-related Google searches from 2004-2012 showed a consistent pattern of spikes at the beginning of the week. This pattern was also seen in tobacco-related searches in 6 different languages.[iii], [iv], [v]
People are more likely to start diets, exercise regimens, quit smoking and schedule doctor’s appointments on Monday than any other day.ii, [vi]
People call tobacco quitlines more on Mondays than other days.[vii], [viii]
Engaging in healthy behaviors on Monday helps people sustain healthy behavior throughout the week.
Dieters have greater long term success if they use Monday as a “reset” day to get back on track. Most dieters indulge and gain some weight back over the weekend. Research shows people that get back on track with their weight loss regimens at the beginning of the week are better able to maintain progress over time.[ix]
People report that starting the week off with exercise, healthy eating, good stress management, and a positive attitude keeps them on track throughout the week.ii
Taking small steps that build over time can help people sustain healthy behavior
Periodic, frequent messages have the potential to improve a range of health behaviors.i
82% of people say that taking small steps rather than doing everything at once makes it easier to achieve their health goals.ii
Monday provides a social context for change because people are together as they return to the structured routine of work and school.
40% of people say it’s easier to achieve their health goals if they join with family, friends and co-workers.ii
[i] Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future (2010). Healthy Monday: Two literature reviews.
[ii] FGI Research (2014). Online panel of 1,000 respondents.
[iii] J.W., Althouse B.M., Johnson M.J., Cohen J.E. (in press). What’s the Healthiest Day? Circaseptan (weekly) Rhythms in Healthy Considerations. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
[iv] J.W., Althouse B.M., Johnson M.J., Cohen J.E. (2014). Circaseptan (Weekly) Rhythms in Smoking Cessation Considerations. JAMA Intern Med, 174(1):146-148.
[v] Dai, H., Milkman, K.L., Riis, J. (2013). The fresh start effect: Temporal landmarks motivate aspirational behavior. The Wharton School Research Paper No. 51.
[vii] Erbas, B., Bui, Q., Huggins, R., Harper, T., White, V. (2006). Investigating the relation between placement of Quit antismoking advertisements and number of calls to Quitline: A semiparametric modelling approach. J Epidemiol Community Health, 60, 180-182.
[viii] Johnson, M. (2011). Weekly patterns in usage of tobacco quit lines. Presented at the 2011 North American Quitline Consortium.
[ix] Orsama, A., Mattila, E., Ermes, M., van Gils, M., Wansink, B., & Korhonen, I., (2014). Weight rhythms: Weight increases during weekends and decreases during weekdays. Obesity Facts, 7. (DOI:10.1159/000356147)