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Physical Activity: Communication and Awareness Campaigns


  • Physical activity,
  • Social environment,
  • Community,
  • Facilities & organizations,
  • Schools,
  • Workplace,

Create communication and awareness campaigns to promote physical activity

How to implement

High impactCreate communication and awareness campaigns to promote physical activity in the community.1-6 

  • Get the word out by using multiple strategies, including media, education and social marketing (e.g., signage, local media, newsletter inserts, pamphlets).
  • Highlight key messages (e.g., the importance of lifelong physical activity and active play, positive role modelling, obesity prevention and local sport opportunities).7, 8
  • Tailor messages (e.g., to young people, parents, community role models, healthcare and social workers and educators).1-7, 9, 10
  • Link community activities with policies that reduce barriers for those who want to participate.5

Example in action: Alberta Recreation and Parks Association’s 'June is Recreation and Parks Month' campaign celebrates recreation opportunities in Alberta through planning activities and events aimed at engaging Albertans in parks and recreation.

Try this: No matter how big or small, your community can implement an awareness campaign!  Do you have a local newspaper, radio station or newsletter to promote campaign messages? Are there visible signboards in the community or opportunities to distribute pamphlets and other information? Can you connect awareness activities to community activities (e.g., does your community have recreation staff that can assist with information sharing)? If the answer is 'yes' to even one of these questions, you have the tools for an awareness campaign!

The Alberta Center for Active Living has a comprehensive resource hub that can be used to support the development of communication and awareness campaigns.

  • For best results, campaigns should:
    • Work with government departments and local councils.11, 12
    • Be implemented and evaluated over the long-term.11, 12 Check out the Learning from experience strategies on how to do this!

Example in Action: Organized by Safe Healthy Active People Everywhere (SHAPE), Winter Walk Day is held in February each year. The aim of Winter Walk Day is to encourage people across Alberta to be active outdoors during winter. Click here to register your group, plan a community event and access material to promote Winter Walk Day in your community.

  1. Williams G, Hamm MP, Shulhan J, Vandermeer B, Hartling L. Social media interventions for diet and exercise behaviours: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ Open. 2014;4(2):e003926. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003926. Available from:
  2. BC Ministry of Health. Evidence review: healthy living – physical activity and healthy eating. CORE public health functions for BC. Victoria (BC): BC Ministry of Health; 2006. Available from:
  3. All-Party Commission on Physical Activity. Tackling physical inactivity: a coordinated approach. London (UK): All-Party Commission on Physical Activity; 2014. Available from:
  4. Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendations to increase physical activity in communities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2002;22(4S):67-72. Available from:
  5. World Health Organization (WHO). Interventions on diet and physical activity: what works: summary report. Geneva (SW): World Health Organization; 2009. Available from:
  6. MacArthur Group Inc. Physical activity strategy for Prince Edward Island 2004-2009. Charlottetown (PE): MacArthur Group; 2004. Available from:
  7. Garcia J, Beyers J, Uetrecht C, et al. Healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weights guideline for public health in Ontario. Toronto (ON): Cancer Care Ontario, Program in Evidence-based Care; 2010. Available from:
  8. Community Preventive Services Task Force, CDC. Behavioral and social approaches to increase physical activity: Social support interventions in community settings. The community guide. Washington (DC): CDC; 2014. Available from:
  9. Committee on Physical Activity, Health, Transportation and Land Use. Does the built environment influence physical activity? Examining the evidence. Transportation Research Board Special Report 282. Washington (DC): The National Academies Press; 2005. Available from:
  10. Community Preventive Services Task Force, CDC. Campaigns and informational approaches to increase physical activity: Community-wide campaigns. The community guide. Washington (DC): CDC; 2014. Available from:
  11. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Physical activity for children and young people. NICE guideline. London (UK): National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2009. Available from:
  12. Koplan JP, Liverman CT, Kraak VA. Preventing childhood obesity: health in the balance. Washington (DC): National Academies Press; 2005. Available from:
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