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CDC Launches New Campaign to Increase Physical Activity Among Adults

A new campaign developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was unveiled today to promote moderate physical activity among adults.

"This campaign will help more Americans do what they want to do -- to make regular physical activity a part of their lives," said HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala. The theme 'It's Everywhere You Go' reinforces the fact that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day 5 or more days of the week provide health benefits and fit easily into normal daily routine.

"You do not have to be a star athlete or join an expensive gym to receive health benefits from physical activity. This campaign focuses on the simple ways to add physical activity -- taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a walk with the family instead of watching a television -- you can fit physical activity in everywhere you go," said CDC Director David Satcher.

According to Shalala, last year's Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health reported that even a moderate amount of physical activity has significant health benefits, but 60 percent of Americans were not yet moderately active. Millions of Americans have heard that message and are ready to become more active. CDC's campaign 'It's Everywhere You Go,' an initiative based on science, but also responsive to the wants and needs of consumers, is making positive health messages available to health professionals, educators, and state and local communities to help Americans be more active.

Developed for use by health professionals and community leaders across the nation, the "Physical Activity: It's Everywhere You Go" campaign is comprised of a marketing kit that includes three sections: (1) Marketing Strategies for Physical Activity; (2) Working with the Media; and (3) Developing Physical Activity Programs and Events. Other components of the kit include television messages featuring Olympic gold medal speed skater Dan Jansen, radio ads, and a colorful poster and print ad. By mid-August, the entire kit will be available on an Internet homepage.

Most importantly, the kit is designed to assist a broad range of individuals, including health professionals, educators, and state and local communities to identify the adults who want to become physically active and effectively reach them with accurate and positive messages. According to 1995 market research data, millions of American adults are thinking about or just starting to become physically active. By identifying and directing messages to these adults, the CDC hopes to significantly reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, and of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer.

By analyzing market research data as well as conducting focus groups and interviews, CDC was able to attain a detailed picture of the intended audience. The surveys revealed that the majority of the intended audience is 18 to 45 years old, educated, middle-income, and female. With 71 percent married, 74 percent employed, and 58 percent with live-in children, it is not surprising that these adults reported having little time for themselves after meeting the demands of their families, homes, and jobs. Two-thirds of this population are trying to lose weight. Few of them considered themselves rugged or athletic; rather they described themselves as interesting, friendly, caring, mature, fun, smart, honest, and content.

As a whole, the target group members do not enjoy vigorous "exercise," describing it as time consuming, physically painful, and boring. On the other hand, they view "physical activity" as fun and enjoyable and are pleased to learn that it is important to their health and well-being. Participants believe that internal motivation, pleasant and manageable activities, support from family and friends, and convenience would help them become more physically active.

A variety of other barriers also stand between them and physical activity. "We learned that even though these adults want to be physically active, barriers such as long work hours, a lack of confidence in their athletic ability, safety issues, and family priorities prevent them from achieving their goal," noted Dr. James Marks, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "Armed with this knowledge, we can more effectively address their needs and help them adopt healthier behaviors."

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