Texting study pushes students to get up, get moving

Paul Mayne // Western News

Kinesiology masters student Emma Cotten looks at reducing sedentary behaviour using text messages in her upcoming study. Students will receive text messages, over a six-week period, prompting them to take part in some form of physical activity.

You don’t often speak of exercise and texting in the same breath. But Emma Cotten looks to change that as the second-year Kinesiology masters student prepares to launch a study to get students to hang up on sedentary behavior.

“We don’t seem to do things any more. We simply text each other instead of actually getting up and going to meet people,” said Cotten, who is working on the study with Kinesiology professor Harry Prapavessis, director of Western’s Exercise and Health Psychology Laboratory. “We’re trying to use texting in a better way than what it’s being used for now. Basically, right now, you’re just sitting there and, while it’s convenient, it does make us lazy.

“So, we’re going to try and use texting to increase movement.”

The study, which launches later this month, will see approximately 150 student volunteers receiving texts each day over a six-week period, encouraging them to participate in some form of physical activity.

“There will be multiple texts during the day to keep you ‘on your toes’ for six weeks –anything that means not sitting,” said Cotten, who did not want to reveal the physical activities that will be recommended in the texts. “We’re going to send texts to prompt students to get up and move around a little more often.”

Students will fill out questionnaires at two-week intervals throughout the study to monitor their activity and sedentary levels.

Cotten said, if successful, such a method for increasing physical activity can be used by anyone anywhere, such as local health units, and be targeted to a specific age group or physical ability.

“Even if you feel you’re exercising enough, when you’re sitting too much there are so many health consequences,” she said. “If you are looking to make a resolution to be healthier in the New Year, this could help.”

TEXT ME, MAYBE. Kinesiology masters student Emma Cotten’s study looking at reducing sedentary behaviour via text messages is seeking student volunteers. Email SitLessSMS@gmail.com for more information. There will be a draw at the end of the study for three $100 prizes.