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Text Messaging Can Boost Daily Walking

Researchers find cumulative impact.

Person text messaging

Sending frequent text messaging about walking can increase the recipient’s daily steps, according to a study reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2022; 19 [3], 1668). Ritsumeikan University researchers in Shiga, Japan, tested whether behavioral change stage could be estimated from gait information and whether text messaging based on behavioral change stages can be successful. Investigators could not effectively determine behavioral change stages; however, frequent text messaging improved the amount of walking, particularly over time.

Investigators used a variety of message styles. The most effective messages to increase walking were those that showed the negative impact of skipping a stroll. For example, “Weakness in the calf causes [reduced] function as a blood-circulating pump … walk to prevent muscle weakness!” The next most successful messages were cues to action. An example: “[I]t’s possible to prevent [being] bedridden by walking about 2,000 steps. Let’s start with what we can do, such as walking to one [train] station.” Messaging was more effective in motivating behaviors in the second half of the 2-month intervention. Subjects recalled that prior days’ messages motivated walking on a later date.

The takeaway for fit pros is that consistent messaging over time can motivate people to change behaviors, as the accumulation of messages seems to effectively trigger action.

See also: Text Clients Toward Weight Loss

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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