Video and highlights sheet of our 2017 Physical Activity Forum

Don't overthink it! Promoting physical activity in a busy media environment.

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Dr. Tanya Berry, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity Promotion

There are MANY messages about physical activity, exercise, and fitness. There are so many, in fact, that it is impossible to even know the nature and quantity of these messages. Yet, the multiple, and sometimes conflicting, messages influence people’s thoughts and behaviours, even when they are not thought about very much.

Research shows that automatic responses (“gut reactions”) to physical activity information are often very different than what people report on surveys after they have had a chance to think about the message. The emotional nature of automatic responses can influence decisions to be active that are quite different from more reasoned and thoughtful responses.

This presentation gave an overview of how messages about physical activity might have an influence at both automatic and reasoned levels, and what effective messages might look like.

Highlights sheet of Don't overthink it! Promoting physical activity in a busy media environment.Highlights sheet of Don't overthink it! presentation (key points)

4 pages, PDF

Video of Don't overthink it! in Edmonton. (Note: some of Dr. Berry's slides were removed due to copyrights.)

YouTube video of Don't Overthink It presentation in Edmonton

76 minutes, YouTube video

Speaker Dr. Berry's slides - condensed version (some Internet content removed due to copyrights).

Speaker Dr. Berry's slides
24 slides, PDF

The Alberta Centre for Active Living was proud to sponsor this important half-day Physical Activity Forum in Edmonton and Calgary in May 2017.


Speaker: Dr. Tanya Berry

Professor, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity Promotion


Tanya Berry, PhD, is a Professor in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity Promotion with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CHIR).

Dr. Berry feels fortunate because she really enjoys physical activity and sports, which makes it easier for her to be active.

Dr. Berry is also very interested in how physical activity is talked about in the media, by physical activity promoters, and by people in general. Therefore, her research is focused on understanding how people react to health messages at both automatic (gut reactions) and conscious (intentional thinking) levels, and how these reactions influence behaviour. Her goal is to find effective ways to talk about physical activity so that the conversation has a positive influence.

Physical activities that Dr. Berry really likes to do include running, soccer, and hiking. She’s a terrible skater and her husband has to work hard to convince her to even try.

You can read more about Dr. Berry’s research on Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation News.