Telling people that exercise boosts their longevity doesn't help unless they are convinced that exercise will benefit people immediately and enhance their daily quality of life, shows research.
Health care, business and public health have presumed that promoting health and longevity benefits from exercise will motivate people to exercise.
The new findings by the University of Michigan, however, indicate that these individuals exercised less than those who aimed to enhance the quality of their daily lives.
"The study showed that what an individual espouses as important does not necessarily translate into behaviour," said Michelle Segar, research investigator for the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
"While people say they value health and healthy aging, those distant benefits don't make exercise compelling enough to fit into their busy lives."
Segar instead recommends rebranding exercise as "a more effective hook" to emphasize the immediate benefits that enrich daily living, such as stress reduction and increased vitality.
Individuals may also appreciate the subsequent benefits that make exercise more personally meaningful, such as being a patient parent, enjoying life, being creative and having focus at work, she said.
"By shifting our model from medicine to marketing, we can improve how we 'sell' exercise to the public by using principles like branding," she added.
The study has been published in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.