This paper describes the impact of an initiative to increase physical activity at a population level in New Zealand. A media-led, community-wide intervention campaign was initiated by the Hillary Commission (now Sport and Recreation New Zealand). The ‘Push Play’ campaign recommended 30 minutes of daily, moderate-intensity physical activity as fun, part of community life, and easy to achieve for New Zealand adults. In addition, there were community-level and primary care supporting programmes and events. Annual cross-sectional population surveys (1999–2002) monitored the impact of the campaign on message awareness, recognition of the Push Play logo, intention to be active, and recent activity. Results There were substantial increases in awareness of the Push Play message, and of the Push Play logo and significant increases in the numbers of adults who intended to be more active. No sustained changes in physical activity levels were seen in these Push Play serial evaluation surveys, with 38.6% of the 1999 sample reporting 5+ days activity per week, increasing to 44.5% in 2000, but declining to 38.0% in 2002. The only significant difference in physical activity levels occurred from 1999 to 2000 (difference 5.8%, 95% CI 0.1%–11.6%). In an unrelated, much larger population survey, a 3% increase in physical activity participation was noted among adults between 1997 and 2001. The authors conclude that the national Push Play campaign resulted in increases in message recognition and in intention to become more active. If sustained, they suggest, efforts like this may have a long-term impact on adult activity patterns, leading to improved health outcomes and reduced health costs.
health status, participation, physical activity, programmes, wm