"The women who exercised for quality of life did significantly more exercise than the other two groups," Segar said. Those who exercised based on daily quality of life worked out 15 percent to 34 percent more often, the study found.
This argues strongly for a reassessment of how exercise is promoted, Segar said.
"Health and healthy aging are very abstract," she said. "We may endorse them as important, but the problem lies in the fact that we live very busy, complicated lives. When you're looking at your daily to-do list, how compelling is fitting in exercise for a reason that's far in the future, where you might never notice? If you're exercising to enhance the quality of your daily life because it reduces your stress or improves your mood, you notice those things immediately. And if you don't exercise, you immediately notice you feel worse."
Messages that might resonate better with people who need to exercise more often, she said, include that exercise is a way to:
Though those are compelling arguments for exercise, groups might want to think twice before removing long-term goals from their marketing strategies, said Walter Thompson, a professor of exercise science in the department of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University and a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine.
Long-term goals like weight loss tend to be measurable, whereas short-term goals like improved energy are largely subjective, Thompson said.
"The problem with the long-term goal is they can
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