Mass Media and Technology to Encourage Activity

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Mass media and social media can help motivate people to get off the couch and get moving, through targeted campaigns that influence individual behavior and change social norms around physical activity. Smart phones, social gaming, and other technology may also help make activity more fun—and more likely to become an everyday habit.

Here is a brief summary of recommendations for how mass media and technology can be used to promote physical activity. It’s based on a review of expert guidance from the Institute of Medicine and others. For more detailed guidance on these recommendations and ideas for putting them into practice, explore the source listand the links to other resources.

Tools For Marketing Physical Activity (tools-for-marketing-physical-activity-final.jpg)

Develop a federally funded, coordinated mass media and social marketing campaign with consistent messages and branding to promote physical activity (1)
Develop state and local media campaigns emphasizing the benefits of increasing physical activity (1,2)

  • Build on the national campaign messages
  • Create campaigns that are culturally relevant
  • Feature diverse role models and activity types
Encourage new media, smart phone, and other technology and entertainment companies to develop products that promote physical activity  (1,3)

Mass Media and Technology to Encourage Activity—Source List

1. National Physical Activity Plan. National Physical Activity Plan for the United StatesOpens in New Window. 2010. Accessed February 2, 2012.

2. IOM (Institute of Medicine) and National Research Council. Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood ObesityOpens in New Window. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press; 2009.

3. White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a GenerationOpens in New Window. Washington, D.C.: White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity; 2010.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.