In 1996, the Agita São Paulo program was launched to help combat the effects of low physical activity in the Brazilian state, particularly among lower income residents, by encouraging individuals to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Before the official start of the program, the development team spent two years gathering data through literature reviews and consultations with experts to familiarize themselves with existing initiatives that had a focus on physical activity and health promotion in developing countries. While the program would target the entire population of São Paulo, this initial research phase allowed the program designers to identify specific sub-populations to place extra emphasis on – children and adolescents, young workers, and adults over the age of 60. Questionnaires were conducted with these target audiences to identify the current barriers and motivations to physical activity, and based on the data collected, interventions were created. A program mascot that could be adapted for both gender and regional cultures was designed to reflect the greatest barrier faced by individuals (a lack of time) as well as reinforce the main behavior goal of the program (30 minutes of physical activity a day). Program communications were delivered to residents of São Paulo through mass media, mega-events, and promotional giveaways, while participation was encouraged through creating access to sporting facilities, improving physical environments, and working with health professionals to “prescribe” physical activity. Changes in physical activity levels and recall of program elements were measured through an annual survey which was compared to baseline data on sedentary lifestyle levels in the state collected in 1990. Between 2002 and 2008, program recognition had increased from 37% to 60% and survey data showed an increase in physical activity among both inactive and very active individuals.
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