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Does Physical Activity Go Hand-In Hand with Weight Related Benefits?

Society promotes the idea that physical activity goes hand-in hand with weight-related benefits, especially among the overweight population. Sports, Health and Activity Research Center (SHARP) Associate Director, Dr. Michelle Segar, in conjunction with University of Michigan Research, looks into this assumption in her new research. In it, Dr. Segar examines how the benefits of exercising are shaped in health communications and the way that brands chose to frame exercising affects how they get people to sustain physical activity and weight control.

The research was based off of a study on 1600 participants. It looked at whether or not promoting physical activity for “weight loss,” “better health” or “well-being” led to a high or low quality motivation in respect to exercising among overweight people.

Dr. Segar’s study found that overweight women were more motivated to exercise when they viewed well-being advertisements, as opposed to when they were exposed to advertisements aimed at weight-loss. This is because women want their activities during their leisure time to come with choice and valued experiences. When advertisements show that exercising is valuable, women are more likely to prioritize it and fit it into their busy lives. The study concluded that midlife overweight women are more apt to exercise when well-being and quality of life are utilized as the driving factor – not weight loss.

In contrast, the study found that men had the opposite response. Weight loss served as a more motivating factor than well-being advertisements. The study is unsure as to why this is, but has hypothesized a variety of possibilities and is currently looking for answers.

The Women’s Sports Foundation recognizes the importance of staying active. Our GoGirlGo! Program works to improve the health of sedentary girls and to keep girls involved in physical activity because we know that if a girl is not involved in sports or physical activity by the time she is ten, there is only a ten percent chance she will be active when she is twenty-five. Healthy girls make healthy women.