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HUMAN KINETICS

Long-Term Campaigning in the Netherlands (1998–2010)

This is a summary of how one country used physical activity campaigning to stimulate people’s interest in regular exercise.

Ger Kroes, Netherlands Institute for Sport and Physical Activity



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The Dutch Association for Physical Therapy in the Geriatrics (NVFG) in cooperation with a research institute called TNO is working on a standard for exercise for older people in nursing homes and rest homes.
The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a pedometer-based lifestyle program with exercise counseling (the COACH program) on daily physical activity in sedentary nonintrinsically motivated older adults in the northern region of The Netherlands.


From 1998 till 2002 in the Netherlands we had the Netherlands on the Move campaign. For the follow-up we did an evaluation by organizing an international working conference in 2003 on lifestyle campaigns in the Netherlands and abroad. The objective of this working conference was to obtain greater understanding of, and insight into, an effective plan of approach for the next campaign FLASH! by identifying the causes of, and reasons for, success and failure of similar campaigns in other countries.

There is a lot of evidence that exercise has a positive effect on people’s health, fitness, and general well-being. The Dutch government decided to examine the relationship between physical activity and health. According to the Dutch Standard for Healthy Exercise (1998) adults and seniors must engage in moderately intensive exercise for at least half an hour a day at least 5 days a week. The standard can be achieved not only through sport, but also through "everyday activities" such as walking, cycling, gardening, housework. Policy not only targets people who don’t meet the standard level of activity but also targets specific groups in specific contexts, among them elderly people.

That’s why the Netherlands Institute for Sport and Physical Activity (NISB) started the new national campaign from 2003 to 2006. In 2005 there was special attention for the elderly. The campaigns were rather successful; Flash! was conducted in a lot of settings in hundreds of cities with concrete actions. It led to hundreds of local plans for improving health through physical activity. We succeeded in matching national mass media attention to local activity by stimulating local networking. By focusing on working styles in addition to planning approaches we combine insights of the scenario of the campaign with the reality of people acting in it. The Dutch government adopted in 2006 the paper "Time for Sports" combined with a plan of action.

Campaigning is an important part in this paper in relation to stimulating physical activity. The results between 2002-2006 show a 6% rise. That’s why NISB has the task to start the Get 30 campaign (2007-2010) for different target groups, among them: 50+. In contrast with a 1-year concentrated action on a special target group in FLASH!, this campaign will last 4 years for all the target groups. The reason is the bigger chance for structural embedding in local policy. In 2005 FLASH! focused attention on inactive elderly living in residential homes and day-care centers. In 2007 and 2008 the focus has been shifted to seniors from 50 to 80+ who are living in the quarters of the cities. The local authority is involved and the welfare institutes for the elderly are coordinating the campaign in a network with care and sports organizations. The aim of the campaign is to promote agenda setting for local initiatives for inactive seniors. The program has to be carried out in 2009 and 2010.




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