Physical activity is a critical target for health interventions, but effective interventions remain elusive. A growing body of work suggests that interventions targeting affective attitudes toward physical activity may be more effective for sustaining activity long term than those that rely on cognitive constructs alone, such as goal setting and self-monitoring. Anticipated affective response in particular is a promising target for intervention.
We will evaluate the efficacy of an SMS text messaging intervention that manipulates anticipated affective response to exercise to promote physical activity. We hypothesize that reminding users of a positive postexercise affective state before their planned exercise sessions will increase their calories burned during this exercise session. We will deploy 2 forms of affective SMS text messages to explore the design space: low-reflection messages written by participants for themselves and high-reflection prompts that require users to reflect and respond. We will also explore the effect of the intervention on affective attitudes toward exercise.
A total of 120 individuals will be enrolled in a 9-week microrandomized trial testing affective messages that remind users about feeling good after exercise (40% probability), control reminders (30% probability), or no message (30% probability). Two types of affective SMS text messages will be deployed: one requiring a response and the other in a read-only format. Participants will write the read-only messages themselves to ensure that the messages accurately reflect the participants’ anticipated postexercise affective state. Affective attitudes toward exercise and intrinsic motivation for exercise will be measured at the beginning and end of the study. The weighted and centered least squares method will be used to analyze the effect of delivering the intervention versus not on calories burned over 4 hours around the time of the planned activity, measured by the Apple Watch. Secondary analyses will include the effect of the intervention on step count and active minutes, as well as an investigation of the effects of the intervention on affective attitudes toward exercise and intrinsic motivation for exercise. Participants will be interviewed to gain qualitative insights into intervention impact and acceptability.
Enrollment began in May 2023, with 57 participants enrolled at the end of July 2023. We anticipate enrolling 120 participants.
This study will provide early evidence about the effect of a repeated manipulation of anticipated affective response to exercise. The use of 2 different types of messages will yield insight into optimal design strategies for improving affective attitudes toward exercise.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05582369; https://classic.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05582369