The influence of health magazine messaging on intentions to exercise


The public is inundated with media messaging, much of which readers of health and fitness magazines perceive to be credible. The impact of commercial media messaging on physical activity behaviors is not widely understood. This research made use of a naturalistic approach to examining fitness magazine messages on exercise cognitions and behaviours. The relationship between perceived credibility of popular fitness magazine articles and attitudes, perceived behavioural control (PBC), intention, and exercise behaviour was examined. A pretest posttest approach was used. University undergraduate volunteer participants (N=151) were randomized to one of two groups. Group A read a popular fitness magazine article and Group B read a science magazine article, both presented in situ. Participants in both groups completed a baseline questionnaire, received an article to read, completed posttest measures immediately, and then again one week later at follow-up. An ANOVA showed Group A reported a significantly higher perception of article credibility than Group B (F (1, 148) = 7.14, p = .00). An RM MANOVA examining the effects of the intervention over time on study variables showed there was no effect for group (condition), but there was a significant effect for time (F ( 4, 144) = 3.46, p = .01, eta2 = .08) and a group by time interaction (F (4, 144) = 2.42, p = .05, eta2 = .06). The key variable was PBC, with Group B reporting higher control beliefs. The findings of this research may indicate that a one-time exposure to commercial fitness magazines may be insufficient at influencing exercise cognitions and behaviours.

Acknowledgments: Athabasca University, Mount Royal University