JungMaryWe would like to congratulate our own Dr. Mary Jung, Lead Evaluator for the Healthy Weights for Children Project…she is the recipient of a $450,000 five-year research scholarship from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research that will contribute to her research that uses social cognitive theory to understand and improve people’s adherence to exercise.

We’ve all done it. Started an exercise program and then a few weeks later, we’ve given up.

What makes an exercise program stick?

Jung wants to determine whether self-monitoring devices that provide real time feedback, such as smartphone applications (apps) or step counters, positively influence one’s health regime.

This grant will help Jung determine if these devices truly help people increase their physical activity and meet their exercise goals.

“We know that exercise is good for us, but immediate gratification, such as sitting down and watching TV, is just so tempting,” Jung says.

Smartphone applications like MyfitnessPal, Motivation Engine, or FitBit are becoming increasingly popular, and Jung will investigate what factors can improve our stick-to-itiveness.

This is even more important, Jung notes, for the approximate 5.7 million Canadians adults with prediabetes, a condition which can lead to long-term complications– such as heart disease, nerve damage, and type 2 diabetes.
Nearly 50 percent of Canadians with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes.
A key element of diabetes prevention and management is physical activity.
“My research’s goal is to bolster the self-regulatory skills necessary for long-term adherence to physical activity,” explains Jung.

Under the Michael Smith Health Scholar award, another one of Jung’s studies will be the evaluation of a nationwide physical activity and healthy diet program, which is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The program was piloted in five sites last year, and evaluated in Jung’s lab. This Fall it will be evaluated in five more communities including Yellowknife, Vancouver, Castlegar, Saskatoon, and Brantford, Ontario.

“Receiving this prestigious Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award is a great honour,” Jung says. “This allows me the opportunity to focus intensively on my research activities and the mentorship of future scientists. For this, I am extremely grateful.”

Read more on the research funding here.