By: Don Wright, MD, MPH, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health; Director, ODPHP
The evidence is clear: being physically active is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Since 2008, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans has been the go-to resource for policy makers and health professionals, providing evidence-based physical activity recommendations for all Americans.
Now, with the release of the second edition of the Guidelines, the public health community can make the case for even more health benefits of physical activity and help all Americans understand how to get these benefits.
As Director of ODPHP, I’m proud of our staff who led the development of the second edition, working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. The new edition of the Guidelines will be widely promoted to both professional and consumer audiences and implemented in federal physical activity programs and initiatives.
Developing evidence-based guidance provides a strong foundation to inform physical activity policy and programs. But we knew from our work on the first edition of the Guidelines that we needed more than guidance to help get Americans moving. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the health benefits of physical activity, only about 1 in 5 adults and adolescents meet the recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines.
That’s why ODPHP created the Move Your Way campaign. Move Your Way translates the Guidelines into easy-to-use plain language materials that clearly communicate the amount and types of activity Americans need to be healthy.
The campaign was developed through extensive audience research and message testing with key audiences who were not yet meeting the recommendations from the Guidelines, including adults, older adults, parents, children and teens, and health professionals. While there are common barriers to getting and staying active, people need flexible and diverse strategies to overcome these barriers. Move Your Way offers personalized tips and strategies to help people fit more activity into their busy routines.
Move Your Way emphasizes that even small amounts of physical activity have big health benefits — including some immediate benefits like better sleep, improved focus, better mood, and reduced stress. The campaign also focuses on the role of physical activity in managing chronic conditions that affect millions of Americans, like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Move Your Way fact sheets, posters, videos, and interactive tools in English and Spanish are available for anyone to use for free on health.gov. We hope health professionals, organizations, and communities will use these materials to help them promote the Physical Activity Guidelines. In January, we’ll also be launching a pilot test that will emphasize a community-based approach for promoting physical activity through the Move Your Way campaign. From the pilot test, we will develop a playbook that communities can use to implement the campaign through social media and other local outreach.
In the meantime, everyone who wants to help Americans meet the recommendations in the new Guidelines can use our Partner Promotion Toolkit to spread the word about the Move Your Way campaign — and make it easier for all Americans to get the benefits of physical activity.