Active Lifestyle. Part 6

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 12:49
Posted in category Health

It is not exactly clear at what stages these factors have the greatest impact. The entire relapse model appears to describe low-involvement situations, so knowing the factors that contribute to relapse is probably marginally useful information. The key question is, how can fitness professionals improve positive involvement so that these relapse factors are minimized?

The theory of reasoned action (Chapter 6, p.213) also has implications for marketing strategies. The theory states that a given behavior is primarily determined by a person’s intention to perform that behavior. Intention to perform the behavior is, in turn, determined by two factors: the person’s attitude toward the behavior (i.e., beliefs about the outcomes of the behavior and the importance of these outcomes) and the influence of the person’s social environment (i.e., beliefs about what other people think the person should do and the person’s motivation to comply with the opinions of others). The theory of reasoned action suggests that fitness professionals need to be concerned about intention, beliefs about the outcomes, importance of the behavior (intrinsic self-relevance) and the social environment (situational self-relevance) at each stage.

The final theory in Chapter 6 is social support theory. This theory states that people frequently require social support in one of four ways to move from one stage to the next. Social support can come in the following ways:

1. Instrumental support, such as providing a means to undertake the sport or exercise (babysitting or a ride to the location)

2. Informational support, such as providing instructions on how to perform the behavior

3. Emotional support, such as encouraging the individual to keep performing the behavior

4. Appraising support, such as providing feedback and reinforcement.

Like the relapse prevention model, social support theory appears to address low-involvement situations. Thus, providing social support will not likely have a lasting impact unless individuals become positively involved with the activities that they have adopted.

Means-end chain models. Consequences of exercise participation appear to be important considerations when designing fitness marketing strategies. Therefore, it is not surprising that many of the theories in Chapter 6 focus on this aspect of the means-end chain. One component of the health belief model, for example, stipulates that people’s health-related behaviors depend on their perceptions of the consequences. The theory of reasoned action suggests that an individual’s beliefs about the outcomes of the behavior (consequences) are a critical factor. This theory also states that the value of the outcomes to individuals must be considered when assessing their attitude about exercise. The theory of reasoned action pulls out psychosocial consequences as a special consideration. One researcher comments, “Generally speaking, it appears that in order for a person to perform a given behavior, one or more of the following must be true:

1. “The person must have formed a positive intention (or made a commitment) to perform the behavior;

2. “There are not environmental constraints that make it impossible to perform the behavior;

3. “The person has the skills necessary to perform that behavior;

4. “The person believes that the advantages (benefits, anticipated positive outcomes) of performing the behavior outweigh the disadvantages (costs, anticipated negative outcomes);

5. “The person perceives more social pressure to perform the behavior than to not perform the behavior;

6. “The person perceives that performance of the behavior is more consistent than inconsistent with his or her self-image, or that its performance does not violate personal standards that activate negative self-actions;

7. “The person’s emotional reaction to performing the behavior is more positive than negative;

8. “The person perceives that he or she has the capabilities to perform the behavior under a number of different circumstances.”2

Some aspects of social learning theory also point to values as a driving force in behavioral reinforcement. Experiencing a feeling of accomplishment, for example, is a value, as is experiencing gratification from attaining a personal milestone.

The involvement model. The involvement model addresses the issue of self-relevance as a factor that drives behavior. If people see the relevance of the active lifestyle for themselves, then they will be more motivated to undertake the key behaviors at each adoption stage, and thus progress toward the ultimate behavior of participation. Two theories in Chapter 6 relate to the issue of involvement. One, social learning theory, supports the notion of intrinsic self-relevance. The other relates to the ecological approaches that support, in part, situational self-relevance.

The central tenet of social learning theory is the concept of self-efficacy (described as “expertise” in Figure 3). Researchers have found that the feeling of competence is a major adoption and maintenance criterion. People must believe in their capability to perform the behavior and must perceive an incentive to do so. Fitness professionals are not addressing self-efficacy (or expertise) sufficiently. Poor instructors and incompatible environments are significant barriers to adoption.

The ecological approaches (Chapter 6, p.214) focus on the situational context. These approaches suggest that supportive environments need to be created for people to undertake active behavior, such as parks, bike paths and incentives to encourage people to walk or bike to work.

Research findings

Table 2 summarizes the findings from worksite and health club studies. It appears that the lower down people are on the ALSAM, the more doubts they have about the benefits of exercise. It is not that they totally disagree with the importance of exercise, it is that they do not appear to be as convinced as those who are higher up in the stages. Those lower down on the ALSAM are especially prone to wonder if exercise is worth it in the end.

The studies also show that wanting to lose or maintain weight seems related to the importance that an individual places on exercise. Weight is a visible stimulus and, for some people, a constant reminder that they are in poor condition. Those not interested in the active lifestyle message appear less concerned about their weight. Thus, they may lack this constant reminder. This is probably why the “lose weight” ads do so well in keeping some people involved in exercise, while others appear oblivious to the relationship between weight and exercise. If people are conscious of their weight, they will continue to try to do something about it. This feeling, however, seems to subside with age. Older subjects are less likely to be stimulated to exercise because of their weight and more likely to be concerned about their quality of life.

Another finding was that individuals who have been committed to exercise or sports for a reasonably long time have generally always been active. Those lower down on the scale (except the pre-contemplation groups) have tried several times to get a program established. Those falling in the non-committed category indicated considerable on/off efforts at exercising. Almost a quarter of the committed short-term group were on their first real program and appeared to have had fewer attempts at getting started. The committed long-term participants were the most frequent participants and the uncommitted were the least frequent participants. There is a high relationship between level of commitment and frequency of participation.

Highly committed individuals are slightly more likely to use counter-conditioning and stimulus strategies to keep exercising, although almost all level of activities seem to use counter-conditioning. Those lowest on the ALSAM scale do not appear to try to avoid environments that promote inactivity. The most important factor is motivation. The more highly-committed people simply have fewer problems with motivation. They enjoy exercise, are more convinced about its benefits and are more knowledgeable about it. Other differences between individuals at various phases of ALSAM are provided in Table 2.

Active lifestyle marketing implications

There is a debate over whether stages of adoption models actually describe reality. However, they serve as an excellent mechanism for framing how people adopt active lifestyle behaviors, and are excellent guides for designing active-lifestyle marketing messages. The means-end chain is a wonderful guide when it comes to understanding how perceived consequences drive behavior. By relating active lifestyle attributes to self-relevant consequences, values, goals and needs, people form hierarchical knowledge structures called means-end chains. The attributes of some types of exercise programs or sports are strongly linked to important consequences and values. The attributes of other sports or exercise programs are only weakly associated with self-relevant consequences. Researchers refer to these as high- and low-involvement connections. The experience of involvement (self-relevance) is a cognitive connection that stimulates strong affective emotions. Situational factors can also influence the content of activated means-end chains of knowledge. This in turn may affect the involvement people experience when choosing which sport or exercise types to pursue.

By using these three frameworks in conjunction with the summaries of theories and data provided in the 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, you will have a good start on the type of knowledge needed to develop effective and targeted marketing campaigns.

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