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Physical Activity: The Science of Health Promotion Through Tailored Messages


  • Tracey L. Yap BSN RN,

    Doctoral Candidate, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Tracey L. Yap, BSN KN, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, Cincinnati.

  • L. Sue Davis PhD RN

    Professor and the Director of Occupational Health Nursing ProgramSearch for more papers by this author
    • L. Sue Davis, PhD RN, is a professor and the director of occupational health nursing program at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, Cincinnati.


Sedentary behavior warrants greater attention from rehabilitation nurses because physical fitness plays a role in the success of an individualized rehabilitation program. With one of every two adults being inactive, rates of sedentary lifestyle and obesity are increasing in the United States and are responsible for a large portion of our healthcare costs. Conversely, engaging in regular physical activity reduces the risks of obesity, premature death, myocardial infarction, diabetes, hypertension, colon cancer, depression, and anxiety. Because physical activity improves overall function, it is a component of many rehabilitation programs. Tailored health messages can be highly effective in helping people change unhealthy behaviors by providing information and behavior change strategies that are customized for the unique needs, interests, and concerns of different people. The rehabilitation nurse can help the client manage long-term health problems and maximize well-being by tailoring messages geared toward increasing physical activity levels. Although the exact mechanism responsible for the tailoring effect is not known, it is generally thought that the personally relevant information communicated in the message is more likely to improve motivation and health behavior change. The goal of a tailored message is to produce an individualized communication so that the participant can say, “This applies to me.” This article examines tailored message approaches geared toward engaging people in intentional physical activity.