Training older adults to inhibit the automatic attraction to sedentary stimuli: A cognitive-bias-modification protocol




Attentional Bias, Aging, Exercise, Health Behavior, Humans, Sedentary Behavior


Background: To counteract the pandemic of physical inactivity, current interventions rely mainly on reflective processes that focus on increasing the motivation to be physically active. Yet, while these interventions successfully increase the intention to be active, their effect on actual behavior is weak. Recent findings in line with the theory of effort minimization in physical activity (TEMPA) suggest that this inability to turn the intention into action is explained by positive automatic reactions to stimuli associated with sedentary behaviors. These automatic reactions could be particularly strong in older adults, who are more likely to associate physical activity with fear, pain, or discomfort. Objective: The aim of this program is to test the effect of an intervention aiming to counteract their automatic attraction toward sedentary stimuli and to respond positively to physical-activity stimuli in older adults. Training older adults to inhibit the automatic attraction toward sedentary stimuli is hypothesized to increase physical activity, thereby contributing to improved physical functioning and quality of life. Methods: To test these hypotheses, older adults (≥ 60 years) will be enrolled in a controlled double-blinded study with 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up. Participants will be randomized (1:1 ratio) to receive a 12-session cognitive-bias modification training for 3-week based on a go / no-go task either in an experimental or a control condition (placebo). The primary outcome is the number of steps per week. Secondary outcomes include automatic approach-avoidance tendencies toward sedentary and physical activity stimuli, explicit affective attitudes toward physical activity, physical function, and quality of life. Discussion: The study is expected to inform public-health policies and improve interventions aiming to counteract the pandemic of physical inactivity.






Protocol - Registreted report