Attitude Toward Everyday Activity Important for Healthy Lifestyle
physical activity may be influenced by non-conscious attitudes, noted
David Conroy, associate professor of kinesiology and human development
and family studies. The challenge of encouraging more activity can be
met by understanding the motivation behind both deliberate exercise and
you aren't in the habit of being physically active, you can run out of
energy trying to force yourself to do it everyday," said Conroy. "But
if you can make physical activity habitual, being active becomes a lot
to increase physical activity are at the forefront of public health
research because thebenefits of a healthy lifestyle go far beyond
physical and mental well-being. However, the majority of these efforts
focus on explicit motivation -- external factors that lead to a change
in behavior. Explicit motivation can include following the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services' recommendation for 150 minutes
of aerobic activity throughout the week, or making plans with a friend
to start a weight-loss program.
But explicit motivational processes are often unsuccessful in causing changes that people can easily maintain long-term.
along with Shawna Doerksen, assistant professor of recreation, park and
tourism management; Amanda Hyde, graduate student in kinesiology; and
Nuno Ribeiro, graduate in recreation, park and tourism management,
examined 200 college students for a connection between physical
activity and level of unintentional activity.
wasn't the overall level of activity we focused on, it was specifically
the unintentional activity -- those little things that you don't even
think about that help you burn those extra few calories," said Conroy.
results, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, show a
positive correlation between individuals who have a positive attitude
about physical activity and those who performed more unintentional
physical activity, such as climbing stairs instead of waiting for the
elevator, or walking further to the store because of parking in the
first available spot rather than searching for a closer space.
researchers measured the students' unexpressed attitudes towards
exercise with a common psychological test that uses words or pictures
to trigger a person's automatic response. The computer-based test
requires categorization of a stimulus, in this case a type of physical
activity, with words that are either "good" or "bad." The faster a
person associates a pairing as either good or bad, the more strongly
they connect those two things in their memory.
and Doerksen also used questionnaires to determine the amount of
physical activity the students predicted they would get during the
week. The amount varied, depending on how active students were in their
social group or the outcomes they expected from physical activity.
researchers fit each student with a pedometer to calculate the total
activity he or she experienced during one week. The amount of
unintentional activity is estimated by adjusting total activity scores
to account for people's intentions to be active.
trying to follow this up now by looking at a broader range of
populations," said Conroy. There are major differences in what
motivates young adults, mid-life adults or parents, and older adults
who may have physical limitations, he noted.
The researchers are now exploring whether there are ways to promote or encourage physical activity without a person knowing it.
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