Health, wellness entities hone their message for a new year

Health and wellness are on the top of everyone's mind as the new year begins.

In the news
Health and wellness are on the top of everyone's mind as the new year begins. A new British study contends that people with four healthy lifestyle behaviors - smoke-free, physical activity, modest alcohol consumption, and eating five servings of fruit or vegetables a day - live an average of 14 years more than people who don't practice those behaviors, according to BusinessWeek.

The research was conducted by the University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the Medical Research Council, of 20,000 men and women, aged 45-79, who filled out a questionnaire regarding the four health behaviors. Participants were analyzed based on lifestyle habits. Results indicated that the combined impact of not smoking, dieting, and physical activity influenced health and longevity - common concerns among Americans.

Why does it matter?
PR can be key in helping boost these lifestyle changes. Ilene Smith, SVP of the food and nutrition practice at Ketchum, says the use of lifestyle experts is very important. "With the right lifestyle expert, we'd use them for media tours, in-store events, and book signings to interact with consumers one on one."

Another effective approach is to direct consumers to Web sites that have regular push e-mails which encourage participation.

When it comes to lifestyle changes, Smith says consumers need to get the information in small but frequent bites of information. For example, when encouraging a fitness change, tell consumers to start off with small changes like a 30-minute walk instead of a regimen that requires working out two hours a day for six days a week. It also helps to engage friends and families in whatever changes they're going to make.

"The most important thing is making [the message] realistic and also relatable; something that really fits into almost every consumer's lifestyle," says Smith.

Five facts:
1 The American College of Sports Medicine released its fitness trends survey for 2008 and the top three trends are: educated and experienced fitness professionals, programs to fight childhood obesity, and personal training.

2 On Fitfiend.com, a social network for fitness pros and enthusiasts, you can connect with other workout buffs to share your fitness goals and track physical progress.

3Web-based wellness company Employee Wellness USA has launched a new campaign "Health and Wellness for Human Resources" aimed at getting across the importance of employee wellness programs to HR pros nationwide.

4 Self is promoting a 2008 Jump Start Diet that offers to help drop the pounds by tweaking one little habit a day by trying out some tips and sticking with those you like.

5 In the UK, Manchester NHS uses SMS text messaging for people to contact its Stop Smoking Service and receive support, including nearest drop-in sessions and appointments with specialist and advisors.

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