Monday, April 25, 2016

Has Public Health Ever Affected A Population-Based Increase in Activity?

Last week I read a piece in the New York Times that spoke to the seemingly impossible task of getting people to move more.

And there have been no shortage of efforts. From school-based efforts that despite absolutely increasing school-based activity levels didn't lead to increased overall activity levels (as kids more active at school were found to be less active out of school), to the regular publication of national guidelines (and with them national scoldings), to decades long branded awareness campaigns like ParticipACTION, to regular news pieces telling us we're all sloths, etc.

Yet have any worked to affect a sustained population-based increase in activity?

And if the answer is, as I believe it to be, a resounding "no", that no public health intervention has ever led to a population sustaining an increase in their level of physical activity, what do we do with that? I'm not asking because I think I know the answer. I definitely don't. Do we stop trying? Do we try harder? And if we are to continue trying, what does that even look like, as clearly what we've been doing hasn't worked.

And what a shame too as exercise, regardless of weight, is as I've said many times before, the world's best drug.