Does anyone else feel like the way we frame health promotion campaigns seems down right broken?
One of the biggest pleasures of my job is helping people achieve successes in their health. I believe increases in performance, happiness, and health start with small changes. These can then grow into huge results over time. Outcomes like these can be compared to investing in a savings plan that compounds into large growth over time.
Although when we look at a larger scale, it is rare to hear about these kinds of stories. We here reasons why we should take steps to improve our health but they tend to stay much more macro than micro.
We have all seen the ads about heart disease, stating how many people it kills and how much to costs on a national scale. Another example are campaigns about the costs of obesity and the compounding health conditions that come with it. My personal favourite is when you hear how stress is killing us and the losses productivity each year.
And these are all fantastic points. If we didn’t have these sorts of studies being produced we would not have the in depth and effective public health campaigns that we see today. For example, Smoking cessation programs across North America were caused by studies linking smoking's negative health risks together. Smoking levels began to drop over the years as successful public health programs and regulations changed the way we see smoking and its effects.
As health professionals, we use statistics to create a picture of the current and future health of people around the world. We have continued to use this model to promote health changes. We promote negative outcomes, showing what happens when our health has declined to a point needing medical intervention. We hope that you make a change out of concern instead of hope. Inversely similar, health guru’s usually promote the extreme and unrealistic end point of any positive health change. Unfortunately they cut out the months or years it took to get to that point. And once again we discourage our followers when they don’t see quick progress.
Removing something because it is bad for our health is not a simple task. Placing a new task into our schedule can be an even harder mountain to climb. We have heard the benefits of implementing health tasks such as exercise, consuming less sugar, flossing, etc. Unfortunately we may be leaving many people behind by using classic techniques for promoting simple health solutions.
Much like the fast paced business world, convincing people to see past the quarter can be difficult. If you would never pitch a product with lines like “buy now, and you will find out the benefits in 25+ years”. Then why do the messages seem so far away and intangible when it comes to our health? When health statistics are projected into the future, it is easier to convince ourselves that it could never happen to you. Or it won’t happen anytime soon at least.
Wouldn’t it be easier to promote health changes you can see in 3 months instead of years?
Much like investing in a retirement fund, small changes each day can add up to a big result over time.
Let’s flip this script with a few examples:
Participating in daily cardiovascular exercise will help you fall asleep faster and increase your ability to think effectively. Exponentially increasing your free time and productive sleep.
Taking the time to make an organized task list the night before will save you hours of time over the next 3 months.
Lowering your average resting heart rate by 3 beats per minute will save your heart over 1 million beats per year.
Do these statements sound like a quicker return on their investment?
Like a good business. Make your quarterly improvements turn into long term investments. You will be surprised at how far you go!