Using threshold messages to promote physical activity: Implications for public perceptions of health effects

Knox, Emily C. L. and Webb, Oliver J. and Esliger, Dale W. and Biddle, Stuart J. H. ORCID: and Sherar, Lauren B. (2014) Using threshold messages to promote physical activity: Implications for public perceptions of health effects. European Journal of Public Health, 24 (2). pp. 195-199. ISSN 1101-1262


Background: The promotion of physical activity (PA) guidelines to the general public is an important issue that lacks empirical investigation. PA campaigns often feature participation thresholds that cite PA guidelines verbatim [e.g. 150 min/week moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA)]. Some campaigns instead prefer to use generic PA messages (e.g. do as much MVPA as possible). 'Thresholds' may disrupt understanding of the health benefits of modest PA participation. This study examined the perception of health benefits of PA after exposure to PA messages that did and did not contain a duration threshold. Methods: Brief structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of adults (n = 1100). Participants received a threshold message (150 min/week MVPA), a message that presented the threshold as a minimum; a generic message or no message. Participants rated perceived health effects of seven PA durations. One-way analyses of variance with post hoc tests for group differences were used to assess raw perception ratings for each duration of PA. Results: Recipients of all three messages held more positive perceptions of >150 min/week of MVPA relative to those not receiving any message. For MVPA durations <150 min/week, the generic PA message group perceived the greatest health benefits. Those receiving the threshold message tended to have the least positive perceptions of durations <150 min/week. Conclusion: Threshold messages were associated with lower perceived health benefits for modest PA durations. Campaigns based on threshold messages may be limited when promoting small PA increases at a population level. © 2013 The Author.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 11 May 2017 01:04
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2019 06:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adult; Aged; Great Britain; Guidelines as Topic; Health Promotion; Humans; Interviews as Topic; Middle Aged; Motor Activity; Perception; Public Health;
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110602 Exercise Physiology
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4207 Sports science and exercise > 420702 Exercise physiology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified
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