Study: Illness-, Death-Related Messages Significant Motivators for Exercise

In previous studies, messages that were related to mortality were seen as a barrier to acknowledging health risks; however, the new study found that this is the opposite for fitness apps.

A recent study found that fitness apps that focus on illness- and death-related messaging are more likely to be effective in helping motivate participation than are social stigma, obesity, or financial cost messaging, according to a University of Waterloo press release.

In previous studies, messages that were related to mortality were seen as a barrier to acknowledging health risks; however, the new study found that this is the opposite for fitness apps.

This specific study queried 669 individuals to assess how persuasive specific types of messages are in motivating them to work out at home with a fitness app to determine their efficacy; how they connect with social-cognitive beliefs such as self-regulation, self-efficacy, and outcome expectation; and evaluating the role of gender in how effective the messages were.

“I did not expect only illness- and death-related messages to be significant and motivational,” said Kiemute Oyibo, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health Sciences, in a press release. “Not only were illness- and death-related messages motivational, they had a significant relationship with self-regulatory belief and outcome expectation, and there was no significant difference between males and females.”

Oyibo added that he expected obesity-related messages to be motivational and have a prominent relationship with self-regulatory belief because obesity is a leading cause of global mortality.

“This study is important because it helps us—especially designers of health apps—understand the types of messages that individuals, regardless of gender, are likely to be motivated by in persuasive health communication, and that are likely to influence individuals’ social-cognitive beliefs about exercise,” Oyibo said in the press release.

Future studies should consider other demographic characteristics besides gender, such as age, culture, race, and education, to uncover the role they play in persuasive health communication.

REFERENCE

Illness-and-death related messages found to be significant motivators for exercise. University of Waterloo. October 19, 2021. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://uwaterloo.ca/news/media/illness-and-death-related-messages-found-be-significant

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