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Want to keep your exercise resolutions? New research offers pointers
Date:8/15/2011

ow often they set goals for themselves, monitored their progress, managed their time and engaged in other "self-regulatory" behaviors.

"These self-regulatory processes are really concerned with our ability to plan, to schedule physical activity into our daily life, to inhibit undesirable responses, such as sitting in front of the TV when you could be out working in your yard or walking around the block," McAuley said. "These processes can be measured in a very objective way."

The cognitive tests were "measures such as spatial memory, being able to multitask and being able to inhibit undesirable responses," he said. Collectively, these tests assess what is known as "executive function."

Participants were then randomly assigned either to a stretching, toning and balance program or a walking program that met three times a week for a year. Their self-efficacy was assessed after three weeks in the program.

The researchers found that some abilities and strategies did increase participants' adherence to the exercise programs. Two executive function skills the ability to multitask and to inhibit undesirable responses significantly contributed to adherence by increasing self-efficacy, the researchers found. And more frequent use of self-regulatory strategies such as goal-setting, time management, self-monitoring and recruiting others for support increased study subjects' participation in the program again, by boosting their self-efficacy, McAuley said.

"We can potentially use this information to identify who might be poor adherers to an exercise program," McAuley said. "And then offer those people an array of different coping skills and strategies to inhibit or overcome bad behaviors."

Because executive function declines with age, McAuley said, previously sedentary older adults hoping to exercise more will likely benefit most if they adopt strategies that help them manage obstacles and build their self-efficacy.'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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