First Advisor

Gary R. Brodowicz

Date of Publication

Spring 7-12-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Health Studies


OHSU-PSU School of Public Health




Exercise, Frames (Sociology), Motivation (Psychology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 55 pages)


Public health institutions and popular media frequently frame weight loss and weight control as primary benefits of physical activity. This exploratory, descriptive study examined how respondents rated statements exemplifying three physical activity frames: a weight control frame, a medical frame, and an active embodiment frame. An anonymous, online survey was conducted in March 2018; respondents rated frame statements in terms of inspiring motivation to engage in physical activity, and in terms of perceived credibility. They also provided anthropometric data and physical activity data. Data were analyzed for the entire sample as well as stratified by multiple variables, including body mass index, waist circumference, age, and physical activity levels.

Overall, the weight control frame was rated the lowest in terms of motivation, and rated moderately in terms of credibility. The active embodiment frame was highly rated in terms of motivation, but did not rate highly in terms of credibility. The medical frame was rated most credible overall, while achieving moderate motivation ratings. A "credibility/motivation gap" was identified when frames were rated highly on one scale (credibility or motivation), but not the other. These findings have implications for how physical activity is framed in public health messaging, and suggest that, as no single frame dominated both the motivation and credibility ratings, a multi-frame approach may have greater success in motivating people to engage physical activity than does the current, weight-control dominant approach.


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