The Role of Media in Promoting Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

This paper reviewed a) mass media campaigns and b) ‘new media’ interventions to promote physical activity. They are different kinds of interventions, with campaigns being mass-reach communications efforts to increase population awareness of physical activity. ‘New media’ interventions assess the impact of web-based, internet, other ’new media’ and e-mail-delivered interventions to increase physical activity.

Methods:

Previous reviews of mass media campaigns and ‘new media’ interventions were assessed, and more recent peer-reviewed publications identified using routine electronic databases. For each area, a framework for interventions was described, and evidence for the effectiveness of these interventions, the main outcomes of interest, and methodological strengths and weaknesses were identified.

Key recommendations:

For mass media campaigns, key recommendations were to use consistent and well-branded messages, and for campaigns to be integrated across local, State and national levels, with sufficient resources to purchase sufficient media. Mass media campaigns should be subject to rigorous formative, process and impact evaluation. For ‘new media’ interventions, there is clear evidence of effectiveness, but efforts should be made to increase the reach and generalizability of these interventions. They should be provided as a low cost component of integrated communitywide physical activity programs.

The authors are with the School of Public Health, Sydney University, Sydney, Australia.

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