Unintentional physical activity also helps


Washington: Make physical activity a part of your daily life, even if it be unintentional.

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“If you aren’t in the habit of being physically active, you can run out of energy trying to force yourself to do it everyday,” said David Conroy, associate professor of kinesiology and human development and family studies at Pennslyvania State University (PSU).

“But if you can make physical activity habitual, being active becomes a lot easier,” he said. Efforts to increase physical activity are at the forefront of public health research because the benefits of a healthy lifestyle go far beyond physical and mental well-being.

However, a majority of these efforts focus on explicit motivation — external factors that lead to a change in behaviour. Explicit motivation can include 150 minutes of aerobic activity throughout the week, or making plans with a friend to start a weight-loss program.

But such processes are often unsuccessful in causing changes that people can easily maintain long-term.

Conroy, along with Shawna Doerksen, assistant professor of recreation, park and tourism management, examined 200 college students for a connection between physical activity and level of unintentional activity.

“It wasn’t the overall level of activity we focused on, it was specifically the unintentional activity — those little things that you don’t even think about that help you burn those extra few calories,” said Conroy, according to a PSU release.

Their results show a positive correlation between individuals who have a positive attitude about physical activity and those who performed more unintentional physical activity, such as climbing stairs instead of waiting for the elevator, or walking further to the store because of parking in the first available spot rather than searching for a closer space.

These findings were published in the April issue of Annals of Behavioural Medicine.