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Towards a physically more active lifestyle based on one’s own values: study design of a randomized controlled trial for physically inactive adults

Anu Maarit Kangasniemi12*, Raimo Lappalainen2, Anna Kankaanpää1, Janne Kulmala1, Harto Hakonen1 and Tuija Tammelin1

Author Affiliations

1 LIKES - Research Center for Sport and Health Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland, Viitaniementie 15 a, Jyväskylä 40720, Finland

2 Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:671  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-671

Published: 19 July 2013



This randomised controlled trial demonstrates the effectiveness of a value-based intervention program to encourage a physically more active lifestyle among physically inactive adults aged 30 to 50 years. The conceptual framework of the program is based on an innovative behavioural therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that aims to increase an individual’s psychological flexibility and support behaviour change towards a higher quality and more meaningful life.


Participants will be randomly allocated to a feedback group (FB) or an Acceptance and Commitment based (ACT + FB) group. Both the groups will receive written feedback about their objectively measured physical activity levels and offered an opportunity to attend a body composition analysis. In addition, the Acceptance and Commitment based group will attend six group sessions and be given a pedometer for self-monitoring of their daily physical activity throughout the 9-week intervention. The group sessions aim to clarify individual values and enhance committed actions towards the goal of achieving a more meaningful life. Participants will also be taught new skills to work on subjective barriers related to physical activity. Physical activity will be measured objectively by an accelerometer over seven consecutive days and by self-reported questionnaires at the baseline, as well as at 3, 6, 9 and 15 months after the baseline measures. In addition, psychological well-being will be measured through the questionnaires, which assess mindfulness skills, psychological flexibility, psychological distress and depressive symptoms.


This study’s objective is to demonstrate a research protocol for a randomized controlled study motivating a physically more active lifestyle based on one’s own values among physically inactive adults. The aim of the study is to evaluate the feasibility and intervention efficacy on physical activity and psychological well-being, and discuss challenges in motivating physically inactive adults towards physically more active lifestyles.

Trial registration, number NCT01796990.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy; ACT; Physical activity; Behaviour; Effectiveness; Adults; Psychological well-being