Young women are only half as active as their male peers, and a new initiative wants this to change.
But no one wants to be forced to exercise. So how do you encourage people to do what’s good for them?
The Federal Government’s new campaign to get young women moving might just have uncovered the secret formula.
The campaign targets young women between 12-19, encouraging them to be more physically active. And unlike most campaigns targeted at changing health behaviours, it actually makes us want to get moving.
‘Girls, make your move’ was developed in response to the research that showed young women are only half as active as young men. Even when young women do exercise, they do so at a lower intensity, and spend more of their time sedentary, than the boys.
The campaign, which consists of three commercials and six print ads, doesn’t preach at young women, instead it carefully considers what barriers they face when it comes to participating in physical activity.
It acknowledges that often, girls aren’t abstaining from exercise because they don’t enjoy it or because they’re lazy, but because they fear being judged or ridiculed, or are self-conscious about their appearance while exercising. Safety concerns can also come into play.
We love this campaign for a number of reasons. For one, it features diverse women engaging in a range of activities, which challenges the prevailing messages young women tend to receive about their bodies.
The campaign encourages exercise for the sake of exercise, not as a means to lose weight, or achieve a particular body type.
The campaign is also culturally diverse, portraying young women with religious head-dress participating in sports they may traditionally feel excluded from.
And while most public health campaigns use fear tactics to encourage people to exercise, psychological research shows that behavioural change, such as engaging in more exercise, is only possible when someone believes that they really have the capacity to change.
If a person is confident they have control over their environment and their choices, that’s when they will be able to make significant changes in their lives.
And after watching the ‘Girls, make your move’ commercial, I don’t feel guilty or helpless or overwhelmed. I feel like I want to dance or go for a run. And that is what an effective public health campaign should do.
You can find out more information about the ‘Girls, make your move’ campaign here.