The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Spread the Word

Posted in
Move more

Monday, Oct 26, 2009


As a reader of the Stand Up and & Eat blog, you have likely gotten a tip or two or twenty that has helped you be more physically active or eat better.

Now we need YOUR help!

According to a recently reported survey1, only one-third of U.S. adults know how much physical activity is needed to get health benefits. That’s simply not enough. Granted, awareness of the guidelines doesn’t guarantee that people will meet actually meet the recommendations. But it is a first step (pun intended) to getting people to move more.

Researchers interviewed 2,381 people in representative sample of American adults. The asked two questions: 

  • “How many days a week of physical activity or exercise are recommended for the average adult to stay healthy?”
  • “On those days, how long should the average adult be physically active to stay healthy?”

The survey was done in 2005, before the new physical activity guidelines were released*. So at the time, the “correct” answers to the questions were 5-7 days and 30 or more minutes, respectively. Only 33% got both questions right. Most (86%) got the duration question correct but only 57% gave the right frequency answer. Older people were more likely to know the physical activity recommendations and women were 70% more likely than men to give correct answers to both questions. As might be expected, people who already were meeting the recommended amount were 40% more likely than sedentary people to know the exercise guidelines.

According to the study’s authors, “[There is a] need to develop more creative, coordinated, and consistent campaigns to promote national physical activity guidelines.” We at The Cooper Institute have been spreading the word about the benefits of physical activity and the physical activity guidelines for decades. Obviously, we need to do more. So do others. Including you. Here are our whacky ideas to promote awareness of the current physical activity guidelines*:

  • At the end of a flight, have airline pilots state, “Thanks for flying with XXX Airline. Now that your feet are on the ground, walk for 150 minutes this week to improve your health.”
  • Put a sign on the side of your car that reads, “I’m driving now but I walk 150 minutes per week to stay healthy. Ask me how.”
  • Have Katie Couric sign-off the CBS Evening News with, “Have a good night and a healthy life with 150 minutes of physical activity a week.”
  • Print on the dollar bill, “Invest in your health – do 150 minutes of physical activity each week.”

What are your ideas – whacky or not – for spreading the word about the physical activity guidelines?


* At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physicla activity per week.

1 Bennett GG et al. Awareness of national physical activity recommendations for health promotion among US adults. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2009;41(10):1869-1855.