Mike Peterson developed the Get Up and Do Something website, which he now runs with the support of health promotion master's students at UD.

Making health fun

Get Up and Do Something is source for optimal health

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3:13 p.m., Jan. 2, 2013--Mike Peterson believes that the best way to bring about changes in health behavior is to take an approach that’s fun, positive, and motivational.

So the website he developed and runs with the health promotion master’s students at the University of Delaware is “not about ‘guilting’ people into doing things — it’s about playing to their better angels.”

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Chair of UD’s Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, Peterson launched the Get Up and Do Something (GUADS) website in 2003 with funding from the state of Delaware. GUADS is a program of the Delaware Coalition to Promote Physical Activity and Healthy Nutrition.

“The website is a great opportunity for our students to learn how to use communication and social marketing to promote health,” Peterson says. “At the same time, it’s a fabulous way to motivate people to think about what they can do to make their own lives better and healthier.”

The website features upbeat music to keep people moving, articles on topics from family relationships to mood-wrecking foods, and information about handling stress, eating well, and being physically active. The site also has links to a broad range of resources, including health-related federal agencies and professional organizations.

A GUADS Facebook fan page was launched in 2011 to encourage fans to seek more health information online. As of December 2012, the page had 1,200 likes. Recent posts included links to articles on sleep habits, posture, anxiety, pet therapy, and work-life balance.

Results of a study carried out by Peterson and master’s student Paige Woolley suggest that Facebook may be an effective medium to help people adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Successful media campaigns to promote health can’t be just informational — they also have to be motivational,” Peterson says. “Our health promotion program is one of the first on the East Coast to train students in the effective use of communication and social marketing for health promotion. Delaware is taking the lead in providing a living laboratory for the next generation of health promotion professionals.”

“With social marketing, you’re fishing, and you have to use the right bait,” he adds. “This isn’t about fear of disease but about working to be the best you can be.”

GUADS partners include the Delaware Coalition for Healthy Eating, Heart Truth Delaware, Healthy HENS, Urban Bike Project, and Delaware Greenways.

The state of Delaware recently approved expansion of the program through private funding. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Peterson at 302-831-1014 or pmpeter@udel.edu.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

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