Create your own advertising campaign

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The benefits of physical activity are well documented.

The evidence is pretty clear that physical activity improves brain health and our mood, helps manage weight, reduces disease, strengthens our immune system, and more.

OK, so how do we convert what we know and believe into action?

For the lucky ones among us (mainly those who are hyperactive), moving a lot comes naturally, as if something in our genetic makeup is causing them to continually fidget.

Most people, however, are not so lucky. Being physically active is not easy and, in fact, may require a deliberate effort just to get out of our chair or couch.

We are this body which too often remains at rest until an external object acts on it (Newton’s first law of motion).

If one of your goals, like most Americans, is to be more physically active, you may need to employ new strategies if you want to be successful.

One way to do this is to borrow a manual page from an industry that knows how to influence human behavior. It would be the advertising industry.

Just as there is a lot of science involved in getting consumers to choose one brand over another, there is also a fair amount of art involved in the process. This is what makes ads so entertaining. They can be very creative. And U.S. too.

What may be worth considering is your own “ad campaign” designed to help you be more physically active every day.

The possibilities are endless, and the best are the ones you create for yourself because you know yourself and your surroundings best.

Here are some examples of what you could do:

■ Take a regular “business” break. Many apps and devices can be programmed to remind you to get up and move frequently throughout the day.

■ Sticky notes. It is remarkable how many of my clients, many of whom are busy professionals in the digital age, still find paper and marker to be effective ways of communicating, in this case, with themselves. They have learned that strategically placed messages can help them focus on their important goals. Think about all the places in your living and work spaces where you can make a mini bulletin board to remind you to get up and move.

■ Put simple exercise accessories in places where you cannot fail to see them. Some people put dumbbells next to their desks, or resistance bands on the doorknob, or a yoga mat in the middle of the floor, or exercise clothes in rooms they frequent, like the kitchen (you know, that place we often go for snacks.)

■ Make it emotional. Advertisers know that buying can be less a rational decision than one intended to create a certain feeling (freedom, security, attractiveness, etc.). Think about images that you can display in your surroundings that will inspire you to keep the promises you made to be more active this year.

How creative can you be in designing your own personal ad campaign?

The object here is to design your environment to support your best intentions. Conclusion: Visual cues grab our attention and can be effective in causing us to change our behaviors, so that they are more aligned with our highest values.

If any of these ideas make sense to you, I encourage you to try it out now. Remember the advice from the folks at Nike who crafted one of the most successful ad campaigns of all time: Just Do It!

Barry Bouthilette is a nationally certified health and wellness coach who helps people eat smart, maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active, reduce the risk of chronic disease, sleep well, manage stress, improve relationships and more.


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