Doctoral student getting the word out on exercise

Texts help planning, the toughest step in an exercise program

Chetan Mistry has devised a text service to encourage excercise among people who do less than 2.5 hours of activity per week.

Saanich-based doctoral candidate Chetan Mistry is leading a behavioural medicine project that uses text messaging to encourage exercise.

Mistry has 150 recruits signed up and active from across the country, though most are from Victoria.

Done through the Behavioural Medicine Lab at the University of Victoria, Mistry’s exercise program is designed to motivate by offering a plan.

“There’s a lot of evidence that planning is the important first step in being active, it’s an important first step for people who are not typically active,” Mistry said.

The texts are free, and help residents plan their physical activity this summer. Participants need only fill out a 20-minute survey, at which point they can be accepted into the program, which is still in its infancy, but works quite well, Mistry said.

“The texts are tailored to the individual’s name, for example, Hi Chet, and they ask individuals if they participated in exercise today, or if they plan to exercise tomorrow.” Mistry said. “They are then asked to follow a link to report their activity/plans.”

Although the messages might become repetitive, the repetition is what is necessary to make exercise a habit, Mistry added.

Ideal candidates perform less than two-and-a-half hours per week, but Mistry believes the model could be effective for all. However, it’s about getting people active who aren’t, he added.

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

Mistry is taking registrants for the free trial until July 31. The survey and registration is done at



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