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WHO’s New Message on Physical Activity

“Everything counts” is more inclusive and motivating.

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Motivational messaging for physical activity

Do your motivational messages incorporate the latest evidence-based practices on how to support behavioral change in your more sedentary clients? New recommendations based on behavioral science findings adopt a fresh approach.

The World Health Organization’s draft 2020 guidelines removed the 10-minute minimum requirement for bouts of aerobic activity to benefit health. Current guidelines state that “some physical activity is better than none . . . doing some physical activity will bring benefits to health . . . start with small amounts of physical activity and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time.”

What might that look like in your social media and advertising messages? Consider using phrases such as “Everything counts,” “Move your way,” “This girl can” or “What’s your activity?” These examples support autonomy, competence and relatedness. Meeting these three psychological needs—to have a sense of choice, to achieve success with one’s behavior and to be respected by others—facilitates motivation and supports both short- and long-term behavior change, according to research. These messages are easy to understand, remember and put into practice.

To read the commentary on creating more strategic messaging, see The International Journal on Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (2020; 17 [1], 135).

See also: Any Kind of Physical Activity Reduces Mortality Rates

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, 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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