There is an interesting debate going on about whether focusing on the many negatives of physical inactivity is a good or bad idea.
In The Lancet July (2012) Chi Pang Wen and Xifeng Wu advocated that there be a large-scale effort to get more people active by “stressing harms of physical inactivity.”
A body of research has investigated whether creating messages that frame physical activity to emphasize what is gained is better or worse than messages emphasizing what can be lost by not moving. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of the research on this showed that “gain-framed” messages for physical activity are more persuasive than “loss-framed” ones.
Amy Latimar, a research leader who I greatly admire, co-authored a response to the July Lancet piece emphasizing that focusing on the harm of being inactive flies in the face of what science has shown. Their response is here.
In addition to the gain vs. loss framed literature, research on self-determination theory would suggest that contexts that support our need to feel autonomous, competent, and related would better foster the high-quality motivation necessary to maintain physical activity over time. (If you want to learn more, I recently wrote a three-part series on this issue here.)
From a sustainable behavior and human flourishing perspective, helping individuals link being physically active to the what they most care about achieving everyday would have better results than communicating about what they will lose if they remain inactive. Why? Because people have to feel deeply investigated about something in order to keep it up in today’s hectic life.
Others might argue that we should stop talking about this issue and that people should just “step up to the plate” and take responsibility for their behavior, and the potentially large costs their unhealthy behavior is enacting on society. They should “just do it!”
What do you think about this question? Which way of promoting physical movement do you think we should be doing?
Saturday, February 16th, 2013 | Motivation, Transforming a "health" behavior from a chore into a gift
Last week, in the second of this three-part series, I explained how having internal sources of fuel, or drive for self-care behaviors (e.g. more exercise and sleep) helps individuals take ownership of their daily choices and behavior. If you’d like to read this three-part blog series in order, the links are: Part I, Part II. [...]
Last week, in the first in this three-part series, I explained how having external sources of fuel, or drive, to make behavioral changes is costly for individuals, practitioners, patients, and organizations. If you’d like to read these posts in order, start with Part 1. This second post will discuss a much better alternative and how [...]
We call it “motivation.” But what does this concept really mean and how does it actually help us maintain our drive to achieve our goals every day? In today’s post, Part 1 in my 3-part series on motivation, I address the “best” and “worst” types of motivation, as well as how this knowledge can be [...]
Happy New Year! Over the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with numerous journalists about how to help people create New Year’s resolutions that they can stick with in 2013. Featured media in the last week include The New York Times Magazine (January 6), CNN.com, Stateside (NPR-MI Radio), and Fox 2 [...]
With the onset of Fall it is time to strategize how to stay physically active beyond the summer season, when life and our obligations often increase. If you care about sticking with a physically active lifestyle throughout the year, here are five essential steps to help you: Step 1 Become very clear about how moving [...]
In an article about brand meaning in the Journal of Business Research, the authors emphasize how crucial it is that brands stay relevant when the marketplace is as dynamic as ours. They used Levi jeans as an example. To baby boomers, Levi’s meant freedom and rebelliousness. To their kids, wearing Levi’s was for old people. [...]
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 | General
Last week, I was walking with my mother, a self-proclaimed “worried well,” expressing my concerns with “health” being the reason for promoting “heath-related” behaviors. She reminded me that, for her, health and preventing disease are the greatest motives for her daily walks. Then I reminded her that she didn’t start regularly walking until she retired [...]
Who is that kid in the authentic “torch carrying” garb? I can’t believe it, but it’s me. Anyone who has followed my posts or knows me is aware that athlete I am NOT! I am not much of a sports fan either – despite being passionate about fostering physical movement and healthy living. So, how [...]
We live in a culture that bombards us about the importance of being healthy and controlling our weight, but do these messages actually motivate us to be healthier and lose weight? My colleagues and I recently studied this question as it relates to exercise. The unanticipated answer in our new study was “it depends.” For [...]