At least that’s the question an article in the New York Times asks while discussing some recent studies in this area. It says that we need to reframe the message about exercise and its many benefits and focus mostly on the many immediate benefits of exercises instead of the usual suspects like weight loss and disease prevention, which are often seen as too unattainable or distant to most people. Here are some key excerpts from the article:
Now research by psychologists strongly suggests it’s time to stop thinking of future health, weight loss and body image as motivators for exercise. Instead, these experts recommend a strategy marketers use to sell products: portray physical activity as a way to enhance current well-being and happiness.
“We need to make exercise relevant to people’s daily lives,” Michelle L. Segar, a research investigator at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan, said in an interview. “Everyone’s schedule is packed with nonstop to-do’s. We can only fit in what’s essential.”
Based on studies of what motivates people to adopt and sustain physical activity, Dr. Segar is urging that experts stop framing moderate exercise as a medical prescription that requires 150 minutes of aerobic effort each week. Instead, public health officials must begin to address “the emotional hooks that make it essential for people to fit it into their hectic lives.”
“Immediate rewards are more motivating than distant ones,” she added. “Feeling happy and less stressed is more motivating than not getting heart disease or cancer, maybe, someday in the future.
We at DailyEndorphin agree that changing the framing beyond the long term clinical benefits of exercise (e.g. losing weight, avoiding diseases, etc.), and focusing more on the immediate (& emotional) benefits of it (e.g. stress relief), must be emphasized in order for it to have a lasting effect on longer term habits and lifestyle. What does everyone think about this approach?