Motivating People to Exercise with Messages of Death and Illness

 In Naturopathic News

NODE SMITH, ND

Fitness apps that emphasize illness- or death-related messaging are more likely to be effective in motivating participation than are social stigma, obesity, or financial cost messaging, according to a recent study.

Previous studies, especially on smoking cessation and risky sexual behaviour, found that messages related to mortality could be a barrier to acknowledging health risks, but the study found this is the opposite for fitness apps.

The study asked 669 research participants to indicate how persuasive these five types of messages were in terms of motivating them to work out at home with a fitness app, to uncover their effectiveness, connection with social-cognitive beliefs such as self-regulation (goal setting), self-efficacy and outcome expectation, and seeing what role male/female gender played.

“I did not expect only illness- and death-related messages to be significant and motivational,” said Kiemute Oyibo, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health Sciences. “Not only were illness- and death-related messages motivational, they had a significant relationship with self-regulatory belief and outcome expectation, and there was no significant difference between males and females.”

Oyibo said he had expected obesity-related messages (such as “one in four Canadians has clinical obesity”) to be motivational and have a significant relationship with self-regulatory belief, given that obesity is associated with the leading causes of global mortality.

“This study is important because it helps us — especially designers of health apps — understand the types of messages that individuals, regardless of gender, are likely to be motivated by in persuasive health communication, and that are likely to influence individuals’ social-cognitive beliefs about exercise,” Oyibo said.

Oyibo said future studies should consider other demographic characteristics besides gender, such as age, culture, race and education, to uncover the role they play in persuasive health communication.

1. Kiemute Oyibo. The Relationship between Perceived Health Message Motivation and Social Cognitive Beliefs in Persuasive Health Communication. Information, 2021; 12 (9): 350 DOI: 10.3390/info12090350

Node Smith, ND is a naturopathic physician in Humboldt, Saskatchewan and associate editor and continuing education director for NDNR. His mission is serving relationships that support the process of transformation, and that ultimately lead to healthier people, businesses and communities. His primary therapeutic tools include counselling, homeopathy, diet and the use of cold water combined with exercise. Node considers health to be a reflection of the relationships a person or a business has with themselves, with God and with those around them. In order to cure disease and to heal, these relationships must be specifically considered. Node has worked intimately with many groups and organizations within the naturopathic profession, and helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic Revitalization (ANR), which works to promote and facilitate experiential education in vitalism.

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