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Do we need to reconsider best practice in goal setting for physical activity promotion?
  1. Christian Swann1,2,
  2. Simon Rosenbaum3,4
  1. 1 Early Start, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4 Black Dog Institute, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christian Swann, Early Start Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong NSW 2522, Australia; cswann{at}

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Goal setting is one of the most widely applied and universally accepted strategies used to increase physical activity (PA). Goals are defined as internal representations of desired outcomes, events or processes,1 such as losing 10 kg (outcome), completing a marathon (event) or being more active (process). Goal setting is particularly relevant for individual-level interventions, for example, when set by practitioners/clinicians prescribing exercise or making referrals. Indeed, the current trend of self-monitoring using wearables (Fitbit-like devices) is essentially rooted in achieving PA change through goal setting. Given recent calls for a ‘movement for movement2 in response to a burgeoning evidence base regarding the importance of PA prescription and counselling,3 ensuring that the right goals are established, for the right person, and at the right time has clear implications for the effectiveness of interventions targeting both clinical and non-clinical populations. Furthermore, given that the greatest potential public health impact of PA promotion lies in assisting physically inactive individuals engage in some PA, as opposed to increasing the volume of PA among those …

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  • Twitter @cswannpsych @simon_rosenbaum

  • Funding Simon Rosenbaum is funded by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (APP1098518)

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.