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Success of Push Play Campaign Recognised

Success of Push Play Campaign Recognised

New Zealand's prestigious health journal, the New Zealand Medical Journal has today published a research article recognising the success of the SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) Push Play campaign, which promotes 30 minutes of daily physical activity, since it began four years ago.

Sport and Recreation Minister Trevor Mallard, said the results support the importance of encouraging New Zealanders to step out and be physically active to benefit their health.

"The health of New Zealanders is a key focus of this government and encouraging and supporting people to be more active has significant potential to improve the health of all New Zealanders. Physical inactivity is associated with up to 3000 premature deaths per year coming close to smoking and poor nutrition as a modifiable risk factor for poor health," Trevor Mallard said. "This research tells us that people are getting the message and now we need to focus on ensuring that people are given the opportunities to be more active as part of their daily lives."

The research on the Push Play campaign was co-authored by SPARC staff and Professor Adrian Bauman, a recognised international authority on physical activity and health based at the Centre for Physical Activity & Health, University of NSW. Professor Bauman has rated "Push Play is an international success in social marketing".

Bauman also believes the combination of "mass media and on-the-ground programmes to encourage New Zealanders to be more active has had results. The evaluation of the first four years provides good quality evidence of the importance of this kind of initiative in raising and maintaining community awareness and of the need to be active."

Another of the authors, Grant McLean, Senior Advisor (Research) SPARC says, "these are very positive results. Key findings from the research are that there were substantial increases in awareness of the Push Play message (from 30% in 1999 to 57% in 2002).

"The other key finding for SPARC is that there were significant increases in the number of adults who intended to be more active (1.8% in 1999 to 9.4% in 2002). Given that the campaign's primary objective was to raise awareness this is an excellent result. The key is to keep moving people into activity," says Mr McLean.

And SPARC is now focusing on moving Push Play into the next phase. SPARC and the Cancer Society of New Zealand have joined forces on a major piece of psycho-behavioural research that looks in even more depth at both physical activity and nutrition. The survey was sent to one in every hundred New Zealand households and is currently being analysed.

This is groundbreaking research for New Zealand, because it moves beyond traditional surveys that have documented the physical activity and nutrition habits of New Zealanders to focus on why people do, or do not, engage in specific behaviour. The results from this survey will assist SPARC and the Cancer Society to identify and target key groups in order to encourage and support them to be more active and to adopt healthy eating habits.

Nick Hill, SPARC CEO sys that "while it is imperative that we keep up the momentum of Push Play as a national campaign, the latest research will allow us to add some targeted communication at key groups within the adult population that need to be encouraged and supported to be active."

Push Play was developed as a result of the findings of the 1998 Physical Activity Taskforce who recommended a national media campaign. The aim of the campaign was to increase the awareness of the need for physical activity and the message that adults need to accumulate 30 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.

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