Mass media campaigns are designed to increase awareness and/or knowledge, influence attitudes and beliefs, and eventually result in behavior change.1,2 They have been effectively used to influence health behaviors at the community, state, and national level. Mass media approaches can be deployed as stand-alone interventions or as part of broader multicomponent interventions. In either instance, such campaigns can have a population-wide reach and typically use both traditional media outlets, including television and radio and “new” media outlets such as social networking and texting.2 The mass media sector also allows stakeholders in the physical activity community to reach key opinion leaders and policy makers to help them make informed decisions as they shape our environments and develop new policies.
Research has demonstrated that mass media campaigns can play an important role in promoting physical activity at the population level. Although the effects of stand-alone mass media campaigns promoting physical activity have been modest and inconsistent, strong evidence supports the effectiveness of media campaigns conducted in conjunction with broader multicomponent interventions.1,4 Further, a recent review concluded that well-designed mass media campaigns can result in increased activity levels, specifically a significant increase in walking behavior.3 In addition, individually–adapted behavior change programs, which are increasingly delivered through computer, laptop, and smartphone platforms, have been shown to be effective in increasing physical activity.5
The Mass Media Sector of the National Physical Activity Plan includes strategies and tactics aimed at 1) developing a national physical activity campaign, 2) establishing a standardized brand for promoting physical activity, 3) educating media professional about the effects of physical activity on health, and 4) optimizing the application of both traditional and new media channels.
Given the power of the Mass Media Sector in the daily lives of the entire population, successful implementation of the Mass Media Sector has the potential to become a powerful and promising avenue to inform, educate, and motivate the U.S. population to be active.
Government health agencies, in collaboration with national non-profit health organizations, should launch a national physical activity campaign to educate individuals about effective behavioral strategies for increasing physical activity. (MM-1) [View Tactics]
Physical activity professionals should partner with communications experts to develop mass communication messages and a standardized “brand” for promoting physical activity that is consistent with current federal physical activity guidelines. (MM-2) [View Tactics]
Professionals in physical activity and public health should inform mass media professionals about the effects of physical activity on health and on effective strategies for increasing physical activity at the individual and community levels. (MM-3) [View Tactics]
Professionals in physical activity and public health should optimize application of social media and emerging technologies in media campaigns to promote physical activity. (MM-4) [View Tactics]