Behavioral interventions with affective elements effective in reducing sedentariness

Published on May 27, 2020 – Sedentariness is a major public health concern. In a recently published study with ACHC researcher Gert-Jan de Bruijn, three different interventions were tested to reduce sedentariness in office workers in Western Canada.

To date, change techniques to promote healthy behavior have been used very rarely in interventions aimed at making people reducing their sedentariness. However, we know from previous research that a number of techniques are effective in getting people to exercise more, such as stimulating self-regulation (‘I will walk for 15 minutes instead of sitting at 12 noon and 4 pm’, ‘installing an app to monitor sitting behavior keep track of ‘), emphasize negative health consequences (‘ by sitting less, you lower your chance of being overweight ‘), or linking emotional consequences to the new behavior (‘ by sitting less, you will feel better soon ). In this intervention, an attempt was therefore made to see which of these three techniques was most effective in changing sitting behavior.

Companies were randomly assigned to one of these three conditions. Three sessions were held with employees within each condition, in which these strategies were emphasized. A total of four measurements were taken: before the intervention, and 4, 8, and 12 weeks after the intervention. The group that had read the emotional effects reduced their sedentariness more than the other two groups. This was the case for the 4-week and 8-week measurements. However, these positive effects disappeared 12 weeks after the intervention.

The main conclusion that is drawn is that affective strategies have a positive influence on reducing sedentariness in the short term. The intervention was conducted in collaboration with scientists from Canada, England, and the United States and is registered with ClinicalTrials.

Read more? Lithopoulos, A., Kaushal, N., Beauchamp, M. R., Conner, M., De Bruijn, G., Latimer-Cheung, A. E., & Rhodes, R. E. (2020). Changing Sedentary Behavior in the Office: A Randomised Controlled Trial Comparing the Effect of Affective, Instrumental, and Self‐Regulatory Messaging on Sitting. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. doi:10.1111/aphw.12202

Link to article and materials: Click here

Link to trial registration: Click here