FRIDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Health and fitness experts have for years tried to entice people to exercise more by flogging long-range benefits such as losing weight or avoiding long-term illness caused by chronic disease.
They might have been going about it all wrong. Research now appears to show that "improve your heart health" may be a less effective message than "feel better now."
A University of Michigan study found that people are more apt to exercise when they're given reasons that apply to their immediate, day-to-day life. For example, telling someone they will have more energy after working out seems to be a more effective motivation than telling them they will be less likely to develop diabetes.
Michelle Segar, the study's lead author, said she believes the results indicate a need to "rebrand" exercise so that health organizations that promote exercise will see better results from their efforts.
"We need to develop new messaging that teaches people that physical activity is a way to reduce their stress in the moment, feel better in the moment, create more energy in the moment," said Segar, a research investigator with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan. "You're a more patient parent. You enjoy your work more. You don't snap at your spouse as much. The benefits of exercise help you lead a more pleasant and productive life. The messaging needs to go there."
The study focused on a randomly selected set of 385 women, 40 to 60 years old, who were given several questionnaires over the course of a year related to exercise and health.
The women's responses indicated that they valued long-term goals like weight loss as much as short-term goals more directly linked to day-to-day quality of life, such as stress reduction. Nonetheless, Segar and her team found that women who cited short-term factors exercised mo
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