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Exercise – Knowledge vs Behaviour

Exercise is important to maintain and improve health with sedentary lifestyles at an all-time high.

By slowly increasing activity by just 10 minutes a day this is enough to provide health benefits over time.

Preventing or delaying chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, will reduce future health complications and health-care costs.

In a study (1), healthy adults who received intervention and were encouraged to focus on changing their behaviour toward exercise showed a significant increase in the level of their physical activity.

Intervention based on cognitive approaches however, (i.e. changing healthy adults' knowledge about the benefits of exercise), did not improve their levels of physical activity.

Information on its own isn't motivating, but introducing strategies to change behaviour increases activity levels.

Behaviour strategies include goal-setting, self-monitoring, and feedback.

Thinking about being more active and knowing it is good for you, is not enough .
Self-monitoring, where participants record and track their own activity over time, appears to significantly increase awareness, and provides motivation for improvement when they can see their progress.

An exercise prescription  should include manageable goals within a time-frame, followed by rewards on reaching goals.

Research has shown that more successful interventions were delivered face-to-face and 1-on-1, rather than mediated via phone or mail to a larger group.

(1)The Study "Interventions to increase physical activity among healthy adults: Meta-analysis of outcomes," is featured in this month's issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

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