Wheeling Walks Training Manual

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Introduction: Background of the campaing

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WHEELING WALKS

WHEELING WALKS was designed to promote and sustain moderate intensity walking among sedentary and irregularly exercising 50 to 65 year-old adults. More recent work suggests the program will be successful with adults 40 - 75 years of age.   Different from other community interventions, the campaign had a targeted message: Walk at a moderate pace for at least 30 minutes daily.  WHEELING WALKS used extensive paid television, radio, and print ads, public relations, local public health activities, policy and environmental changes.

The program name, WHEELING WALKS, reflects the fact that the campaign was piloted in Wheeling, West Virginia, a community of 32,000 residents.  Similar names could work as well for other communities, e.g., PHOENIX WALKS, ALBANY WALKS, or KAUAI WALKS.

Background -- The WHEELING WALKS Campaign

The lack of physical activity contributes significantly to death and disability in the United States.1-4  Physical inactivity alone annually accounts for approximately 200,000 deaths.5  Current public health guidelines that recommend moderate intensity and duration of physical activity on almost every day l-4 are effective in improving cardiovascular mortality and risk factor profiles for all ages.6,7  Programs focused on individual behavioral change have been shown to be effective.  However, community-based health promotion and disease prevention programs designed to lower the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors in target communities 8-16 have had only limited effects.17, 18  Further, the cost and complexity of these programs make them difficult to reproduce.19-21  Therefore, while public health professionals may well know what needs to be done to remove the risk of ill health, public health intervention strategies designed to cost effectively promote physical activity by changing the behavior of entire communities remain underdeveloped 22 and may require a new approach.

Current literature indicates that interventions in the past 15 years have not made a major difference in increasing physical activity.  All these previous studies have used excellent scientific designs, but the net contribution to population wide physical activity change has been very modest.  Moreover, much of the intervention work has been conducted with highly motivated, self-selected, volunteer samples, and is not generalizable to less motivated, everyday people as is found in communities throughout the world.

This project combines the elements essential to making it a successful ?new approach.?   The approach empowers the local community to address a community problem (sedentary lifestyle), uses a targeted physical activity message (walk at least 30 minutes daily) in an intensive eight- week media-based intervention, and incorporates strategies to promote policy and environmental changes.  While innovative in nature, the intervention is fully consistent with other population-based health promotion frameworks used to promote physical activity.  We integrated Transtheoretical/stages-of-change theory and Theory of Planned Behavior with social marketing and a strong community wide intervention approach to produce powerful outcomes.

 

 

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