PHYSICAL EXERCISE: HOW
PLANNING AFFECTS GOAL-DIRECTED BEHAVIOUR
activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles and requiring
energy expenditure. The lack of physical activity has been identified as the
fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, causing an estimnated 3.2
million deaths globally(WHO,…). Since human beings are known to execute and
implement their actions most effectively in a routine basis, it is hypothesised
that planning will lead to more physical activity. A request is hereby made for
the sum of …… to fund a longitudinal study which will be conducted on 2
occasions, at the start and end of a 3 month-period, in order to establish the
effect of planning on goal-directed behaviour. 100 participants will be
recruited and randomly allocated to an intervention and a control group. At
time T1, participants will fill out an online questionnaire consisting of
several scales to assess personality traits, well-being, self-esteem, and
subjective vitality, after which each group shall be primed respectively with specific
information about planning for exercise, and general information on the
benefits of physical health. At time T2, participants will fill out the same
questionnaire, except for the scale assessing personality traits. This proposed
research aims to establish how planning influences goal-directed behaviour in
At the time of the
ancient Greeks, physical fitness was closely interlinked with competition and
comparison, with nobility praising runners and lavishing them with gifts as a
symbol of recognition to their commitment. Their unprecedented encouragement of
games and sports was in fact one of the earliest tributes to the importance of
a healthy mind in a healthy body(Mayor, Strong and Leeper, 1882).
Over time, keeping
fit has developed into models of health and aesthetics, with people engaging in
physical activity both for their general well-being and to achieve a pleasant
body image of themselves(Gonen, Shaked and Golan, 2013) The social aspect of
exercising, which includes forming relationships at the gym and motivating one
another to push the limits, is also not to be discarded. It is not uncommon for
people to work out together or organise group fitness rallies to satisfy both
their social and health needs simultaneously(Eime et al, 2013).
In this age of
constantly-evolving technology, physical exercising has turned out to be more
of a luxury than a necessity, especially because of the exponentially fast
lifestyle that is promoted by a society of consumerism and because of the
division of fitness into a wide array of categories.
In 1989, the Royal College of Physicians(Fentem, 1994) convened to
stress the importance of physical and physiological benefits that stem from
regular physical exercise, and accentuated how it is best if the habit of
regular physical activity is cultivated in early childhood. Doctors in England
have a duty to ask about a patient’s exercising habits and should also be
familiar with and recommend suitable exercise programmes that are
There are several existing
models that attempt to explain why and how people indulge in healthy behaviour
while refraining from irascible behaviour. Intention is an important component
of most health behaviour models and researchers face an enormous challenge to
this day in explaining whether intention leads to goal-directed
behaviour(Bagozzi, 1999). In a study conducted by the University of Aberdeen
and the Freie Universitat Berlin, empirical evidence suggested that planning,
maintenance, self-efficacy and action control all led to the mediation between
former exercise intention and future physical activity(Sniehotta, Scholz, &
Schwarzer, 2004). This has allowed to shed some light on how the
intention-behaviour gap can be bridged.
In 2000, Henk Aarts and Ap
Dijksterhuis conducted a study to investigate the influence of habits on
goal-directed behaviour and capitalised on the concept of Automaticity. It was
found that responses in behaviour are activated automatically when a definite
routine is present. This supported the notions that automaticity, whether
goal-directed or not, is conditional.i.e. it depends on a specific set of
circumstances(Bargh, 1989), and that habits are mental representations that
link our actions to our goals.
Much research work conducted
with cardiac rehabilitation patients(Scholtz, Sniehotta, Burkert and Schwarzer,
2007), orthopedic rehabilitation patients(Lippke, Ziegelmann and Schwarzer,
2004), and additionally a meta-analysis on spontaneous and experimental
planning(Carraro and Gaudreau, 2013) point to the idea that action planning and
coping planning both lead to the facilitation and improvement of physical
exercise. Thus, it has been found that planning leads to more engagement in
goal-directed behaviour and correlates positively with automaticity, especially
within the context of physical fitness.
Regular physical exercise, in
addition, leads to lower anxiety, depression and neuroticism(De Moor, 2006),
has been found to be associated with higher physical and psychological
well-being(Hicks, Martin and Ditor, 2003), and corresponds to higher
self-esteem(Tremblay, Inman and Willms, 2000). Reports of higher warmth,
extraversion, activity and positive emotions, all of which fall under the
umbrella of extraversion have also been found to correlate positively with
physical activity level(Tolea and Terracciano, Simonsick, 2012).
Aims and Justification for Funding
This proposed research aims at
investigating whether planning leads to more physical activity, based on
previous studies and models of goal-directed behaviour. It has been shown that
physical exercise is associated with better health and well-being, and yet
people still choose not to exercise despite being aware of its beneficial
effects, for a wide range of reasons. It is therefore hypothesised that priming
about planning for exercise shall lead to more physical activity. This research
has the potential to provide considerable evidence to any institution that
wishes to promote physical exercise, and to emphasise the role of planning and
intention in goal-directed action.
After completion of the study,
a research report shall be completed and submitted to the following journals
Journal of Exercise,
Sports and Orthopaedics(JESO): A scientific peer-reviewed journal that
encourages research in the field of sports and Orthopedics. It gives prominence
to articles related to injury, pain management and exercise like ligament
injuries, tendonitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, epicondylitis, fractures
and muscle hypertrophy etc.
Journal of Behavior: A
multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that publishes papers of the highest
quality and significance in the areas of behavior sciences.
Journal of Sports
Medecine and Physical Fitness: A Journal on Applied Physiology, Biomechanics,
Preventive Medicine, Sports Medicine and Traumatology, Sports Psychology
research will consist of a prospective cohort study and data collection will
occur on two occasions separated by a 3-month time interval.
participants between the age of 18-35 will be randomly allocated to a control group
and an intervention group. The only criteria for participation will be the
self-reported intention to engage in physical exercise in the near future. Advertisements
will be placed in local newspapers and hospitals to recruit participants, who
will be informed that their participation will be required on two occasions.
Online questionnaires will be designed, one for the control group, another for
the intervention group and a third one for the second occasion to be used for
both groups. For time T1, the scales to be used are the Big Five
Inventory(BFI), the WHO Well-Being Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, The
Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), and the Subjective Vitality
Scale. For time T2, all of the aforementioned, except the BFI, will be
At time T1, participants from both groups will fill out the questionnaires
consisting of the above scales, and using a code name of their choice.
Subsequently, participants from the control group will watch a video which
gives information about the benefits of regular physical activity. The
intervention group will watch a video which provides specific information about
planning to increase physical activity.
period of 3 months, participants from both groups are expected to fill in the
same questionnaire at time T2, and to use the same code as for time T1.
(participants will be told this is how their data for T1 and T2 will be
following is an estimated timeline of the research:
A paired sample t-test will be conducted using SPSS to compare performance
between T1 and T2 questionnaires both for the control and intervention groups.
This test is chosen because in order to find out whether information about
planning does influence self-reports of well-being, positive and negative
affect, self-esteem and vitality, the means of the scores at time T2 need to be
compared with those at time T1, and also to find out if results are
participants will receive the same information about the research project and
will also be informed that they can pull
out of the study at any time they choose to at the start of both sessions. Participants
will be required to sign a consent form stating that they have understood the
purpose of the study and their right to withdraw.
The overall estimated cost is ….. for the duration of