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Researchers seek people wanting help to get active

New study looks at how the goals we set affect our long-term adherence to fitness programs

With New Year’s resolutions freshly made, many of us will be setting ourselves goals for improving our fitness or becoming more physically active. But is the way we use goals more of a hindrance than a help? Are we setting them in the best way possible?

Researchers at the University of Wollongong (UOW) are looking for participants to take part in a new study looking at ways to help us increase our physical activity, and in particular, how different approaches to goal-setting effects people’s ability to stick with a fitness program.

The study, “Increasing physical activity in ageing adults through open goals”, is trialling a new approach to goal setting that aims to increase long-term adherence to regular exercise by optimising the experience of being physically active.

UOW sport and exercise psychology researcher Dr Christian Swann, whose study is supported by UOW’s Global Challenges Program, says physical activity is an essential mechanism for Australians to maintain good physical and mental health, and to live well, longer.

“Alarmingly, 60 per cent of Australian adults are physically inactive, therefore a major public health concern is how to promote physical activity. Once people have made the decision to be more physically active, how to help them stick with it is crucial,” Dr Swann said.

“Increasing and maintaining physical activity long term is a complex process, so this issue is very relevant for our attempts to exercise and get fit.”

The researchers will examine different types of goals that are currently used in exercise and physical activity, as well as trialling a promising new approach to goal setting that aims to make it easier for us to stay active.

They are looking to recruit volunteers aged 18 and over to participate in a one-hour physical activity session (a walking task at your own pace) at UniActive on UOW’s Wollongong Campus. Participants will be provided with a $20 Espresso Warriors voucher as a thank-you for their time.

Those interested in taking part can contact Dr Christian Swann at or 02 4221 4526.