Assumptions can steer physical behavior

Mar 16, 2011 By Katie Heinrich

(PhysOrg.com) -- Higher expectations can be the prescription for more physical activity.

According to a study by Kansas State University researcher Katie Heinrich, those who think they need more than experts recommend are more physically active, while those who think they need less don't exercise as much.

Heinrich, a kinesiology assistant professor, along with researchers Jay Maddock from the University of Hawaii and Adrian Bauman from the University of Sydney in Australia, explored the relationship between people's knowledge of guidelines for physical activity and their physical activity behavior. The March edition of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health published the results.

"Instead of simply trying to educate the public about the current , it may be more effective to increase people's expectations to encourage them to do more physical activity than they think experts recommend," Heinrich said.

The federal government's 2008 physical activity guidelines call for 300 minutes per week of moderate intensity such as fast walking or 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity like jogging or running. More than 50 percent of Kansans did not meet the recommendations in 2009.

The guidelines are supposed to educate the public about the minimal amount of physical activity that's necessary for health benefits, but previous studies have been unable to show that knowledge of physical activity guidelines was linked to meeting the guidelines, Heinrich said.

"The guidelines did provide information on the specific amount of physical activity to do, but they didn't always indicate how individuals should attain the recommended amount of activity,” she said. “Understanding the utility of the physical activity guidelines is critical as physical activity rates remain low."

Researchers found that nearly half of Hawaiian adults in a telephone survey knew the correct government recommendations.

"Those who thought they needed more physical activity than recommended by experts for health benefits reported more daily minutes of walking or moderate or vigorous physical activity," Heinrich said. "Participants who thought they needed less physical activity for health benefits than recommended by experts did significantly less walking or moderate and vigorous physical activity."

Explore further: Tobacco firms get partial win over claims on smoking effects (Update)

Related Stories

Don't be fooled. Guideline don't drive behavior

Jan 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The bar has been lowered for Canadians regarding the nation's physical-activity standards. In short, there is compelling evidence that doing less is still associated with significant health benefit.

Guidelines urge physical activity during pregnancy

Oct 08, 2008

Moderate physical activity during pregnancy does not contribute to low birth weight, premature birth or miscarriage and may actually reduce the risk of complications, according to a Michigan State University professor who ...

Kids walking to, from school are healthier

Aug 19, 2005

Children who walk to school have higher overall daily physical activity levels compared with those who travel by car, bus or train, a British study says.

Recommended for you

Breastfeeding protects against environmental pollution

May 22, 2015

Living in a city with a high level of vehicle traffic or close to a steel works means living with two intense sources of environmental pollution. However, a study conducted by the UPV/EHU researcher Aitana ...

When it comes to hearing, diet may trump noise exposure

May 22, 2015

Although the old wives' tale about carrots being good for your eyesight has been debunked, University of Florida researchers have found a link between healthy eating and another of your five senses: hearing.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.