You are a program manager at a local public health department tasked with increasing physical activity of adults in your community. How would you begin the planning process?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The CDC document in the sources below (and in the link below) helps managers of community programs develop strategies to increase physical activity in a community. This document illustrates the benefits of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity for adults per week--a benchmark that only 44% of adults in the U.S. reach.

There are several empirically validated strategies to increase physical activity among adults in a community. The CDC document states that community-wide programs need to use campaigns that have multiple components and that use media such as TV, the radio, or newspaper ads to promote the campaign with "tag lines." These campaigns also have what is called "on-the-ground" components that include support groups, interventions in workplaces, community health fairs, and other events. These campaigns also involve community-wide interventions such as opening parks or schools for exercise. Effective programs are of a long duration and have a recognizable message.

Before you begin this campaign, you want to think about the message that would resonate with your community. For example, if it is a community composed of a great number of families, you would want to emphasize how adults can increase their family time by exercising with their children. If your community is made up of a lot of singles, you might emphasize the social aspect of working out. Then, you want to develop partnerships (with local businesses and community organizations) that will increase the effectiveness of your campaign. Finally, you want to develop interventions such as opening up parks and schools at night so that people have places to exercise. 

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strategies to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases: The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in the Community. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2011.