Changing habits key to more physical activity

February 18th, 2011 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 18 (IANS) Most people know that exercise is key to maintaining and improving health, yet sedentary lifestyles and obesity rates are at an all-time high. University of Missouri researchers found that healthy adults who were motivated to change behaviours (habits) significantly increased their physical activity levels.

Conversely, trying out approaches to change attitudes did not improve physical activity, the American Journal of Public Health reports.

“The focus needs to shift from increasing knowledge about the benefits of exercise to discussing strategies to change behaviours (habits) and increase activity levels,” said Vicki Conn, professor at the University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing.

“The common approach is to try and change people’s attitudes or beliefs about exercise and why it’s important, but that information isn’t motivating. We can’t ‘think’ ourselves into being more active,” added Conn, according to a Missouri statement.

The study incorporated data from 358 reports and 99,011 participants. Researchers identified behavioural strategies were most effective in increasing physical activity among healthy adults.

“Even small increases in physical activity will enhance protection against chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. Preventing or delaying chronic disease will reduce complications, health care costs and overall burden,” said Conn.

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