Supportive regular text messages can help people who have just started exercising to stay motivated.
This is the finding of a study on behavior change presented today at the British Psychological Society Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology (DSEP) annual conference in Manchester.
The study, undertaken by Florence-Emilie Kinnafick of University of Northampton and Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani of University of Birmingham, aimed to examine the impact text messages could have on the exercise levels of novice exercisers. Some sixty-five novice exercisers (sixty women and five men) were allocated to one of two groups. One group received supportive text messages twice a week such as:
“Hi [insert name]! You indicated that the social aspect of your physical activity is important to you. Exercising with friends can increase the positives of physical activity further! Who said gossiping was a bad thing?!”
The other group received texts as well but these were neutral and contained no supportive comments.
“The Government has set a target in England and Wales for 70 per cent of the population to be ‘reasonably active’ by 2020."
The results showed that after four months the group receiving supportive texts undertook moderate exercise more frequently than those who received neutral texts. They said they felt more supported and analysis indicated that they perceived the texts in a similar way to the support received from significant others. Suggesting that supportive content in a text message can improve moderate physical activity such as brisk walking.
Florence-Emilie Kinnafick said: “Text messages are relatively inexpensive and can reach a large portion of the population. Therefore, using supportive text messages could be a useful, efficient, and effective addition to current programs aimed at increasing levels of physical activity in those individuals new to exercise”.
THE DSEP conference runs from the 16 to 17 December. The full conference program can be accessed at the website of The British Psychological Society. The DSEP promotes the professional interests of sport and exercise psychologists and aims to develop psychology as a profession and as a body of knowledge and skills.