UVic study tweets exercise reminders, tools

UVic doctoral candidate Chetan Mistry hopes inspire the less-than-motivated to get active.

University of Victoria doctoral candidate Chetan Mistry hopes to send out thousands of texts inspiring the less-than-motivated to get active.

The Behavioural Medicine Lab at the University of Victoria will deliver free text messages to help residents plan their physical activity this summer.

This is the second, upgraded version of a study Mistry did in Kingston, Ont., where 350 people got thousands of text reminders for a month.

“It didn’t pan out as expected,” he said. “This is the new and improved version that provides people with a tool.”

The exercise planning study provides reminders to get active sent to a registrant’s mobile phone. It involves one baseline survey and short daily exercise planning surveys for 30 days.

“There’s a lot of evidence that supports planning and if you plan you’re more likely to follow through on exercise,” Mistry said. “People are trying to get off their phones to get more active but cell phones are everywhere, 80 per cent or more people have them. They’re not going away.”

Each day for 30 days participants receive a text message then click the link and fill out the short survey suggesting their plan of action, and how active they plan to be. So far 140 people have registered and they hope to hit as many as possible by the July 31 cutoff.

“Once we gather this information we can answer some questions about ‘Do people plan? When they do, do they follow through?”

The study is open to those older than 18 who participate in fewer than 150 minutes of exercise a week over the past month and are motivated to be more active.

“Victoria is typically a fairly active city, we’re interested in people that are less active than average,” he said.

The protocol has been approved by the ethics board at the university he said.

“When you enrol you give your first name only and your cell phone number. The first name is just used to communicate with you and the phone number after 30 days we scrap it.”

Find more information, or start with the baseline survey at http://fluidsurveys.com/s/BL/