Do physical activity promoters need to find more evidence to support their case for support and other advocacy efforts? Absolutely, says Dr Richard Bailey, Senior Researcher at the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE). But it has to be quality evidence from experts, and a collaborative effort is needed to get it noticed.
Bailey gave an entertaining and eye-opening presentation on the power of advocacy at ISCA’s Moving Europe – Moving People conference in Ljubljana last year. This October at the MOVE Congress in Birmingham, the subject of advocacy will be brought to the table again in the MOVEment Spaces: Reframing Urban Spaces for Physical Activity workshop on 5 October.
But let’s revisit Bailey’s presentation for a moment and find out what keeps him “awake at night with anger”.
It’s fake evidence.
(It’s also Brexit, but you’ll need to watch the video to hear more on that.)
And like fake news, fake evidence hasn’t always needed the internet to go viral. Myths that we only use 10% of our brains, we need to drink eight glasses of water a day for health, that different sides of our brains determine how we should be taught at school, among many others, are urban legends that gain momentum despite the lack of real evidence behind them.
It can be difficult to spot the blurred line between curated pseudo-science and real evidence, and Bailey admits it’s hard for physical activity advocates like us to compete with the noisy nonsense.
The key to making our own messages stick, he says, is to find easy, memorable and genuine facts, and work together to communicate them well.
“We have to think seriously about multi-sectoral work, because physical activity cuts across education, health, business, policy, economics, local communities and so on.”
As physical activity promoters, we know we have a compelling case for support, but this isn’t enough.
“If we start becoming complacent, then we’re going to have to settle for crumbs off the table when we really deserve much more,” Bailey says.
Don’t miss the MOVE Congress 2017’s session on partnership and cross-sector collaboration Together we can achieve almost anything! on 6 October – mix with other experts in your field and get your messages noticed.
Article by Rachel Payne (ISCA), photo by Flare Visuals