Section 3: Messages That Promote the Guidelines
Our goal for the Guidelines outreach is to communicate a clear,
consistent message that will encourage and inspire Americans to be more active.
The main message we are conveying is to ask Americans to "Be Active Your Way."
This message communicates that people have choices and can design their own way
of meeting the Guidelines.
We have conducted focus group research to determine successful messages
that promote the Guidelines. Our focus group research indicates that the target
population is most responsive to four simple message themes:
- Social support
- Ways to fit physical activity into daily life
We recommend using messages that stress the benefits of regular physical
activity, highlight self-efficacy, promote social support and nearby resources,
and suggest simple ways to fit physical activity into daily life. In addition,
we encourage you to regularly use the tagline for the Guidelines: "Be Active,
Healthy, and Happy!"
Following are sample talking points that your organization can
incorporate as you promote the Guidelines. We encourage you to weave them into
whatever communication tools your organization usesfor example, flyers,
newsletters, e-mails, and advertisements. These talking points are designed to
speak to a wide variety of audiences, from the media to members of your
Encourage and inspire Americans to be more active.
- All Americans should engage in regular physical activity to improve
overall health and to reduce risk of many health problems.
- Some physical activity is better than none. The more you do, the more
- Be Active, Healthy, and Happy!
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health
outcomes. For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of
physical activity increases. For adults, examples of these benefits
- Lower risk of early death
- Lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and several
associated risk factors
- Weight loss and prevention of weight gain
- Lower risk of certain cancers (including colon and breast
- Improved bone health
- Reduced depression
Encourage adults to personalize the benefits of regular physical
activity. Other reasons people may be active include:
- Improving personal appearance
- Having fun and enjoying the outdoors
- Serving as a good role model for children
- Enjoying time with family and friends
- Enhancing fitness for sports
- Retaining one's ability to live independently
- Physical activitywho says it has to be hard?
- "If I can do it, you can too."
Self-efficacy refers to the belief or confidence in one's ability to
improve behavior, in this case to increase physical activity. It is important
not only to provide adults with the key guidelines but to help them take
action. An important part of the Guidelines is to encourage adults who are
currently inactive to start incorporating physical activity into their daily
lives slowly. They can then gradually increase physical activity over a period
of weeks to months to meet the Guidelines. Setting small goals and meeting
those goals can improve self-efficacy and ultimately result in higher levels of
For example: An inactive person could start with a walking program
consisting of 5 minutes of slow walking several times each day, 5 to 6 days a
week. The length of time walking and the walking speed could slowly be
increased until the Guidelines are reached several weeks later.
- "It's more fun to walk, bike, or run with a friend."
- There are many people and organizations near you that offer
opportunities and support to help you be more active.
During our focus groups, many adults recognized the social aspects of
engaging in physical activity. Promote social support and socialization as ways
to help motivate adults to be more active. We encourage you to call on more
physically active adults to serve as role models, mentors, and buddies to less
"Show us examples of physical activities that are fun
Focus group participant
Ways To Fit Physical Activity Into Your Life
- "Be Active Your Way."
- Who says physical activity has to be hard?
In our focus groups, adults emphasized the importance of being provided
with many examples of each type of physical activity. Consider offering tips.
People want to find ways to build physical activity into their lives. Focus
group participants asked that they be provided examples of physical activities
that were fun and enjoyable. Provide several examples as a way to allow
individuals to choose activities that fit into their lifestyles and seem
realistic for them. According to our focus group research, it is also important
to emphasize that the Guidelines can be met by doing 10- to 15-minute bouts of
physical activity instead of doing it all at once. Finally, it is important to
make physical activity fun and enjoyable.
"I start out doing 10 to 15 minutes at a time."
Be a Resource
For example: [name of your organization] is a participating local
Supporter of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. We are available
to give you the support and practical suggestions you need to get started on
increasing your physical activity.
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