Community-Based Interventions to Promote Increased Physical Activity: A Primer
Current recommendations, based on an abundance of empirical data documenting the impact of physical activity (PA) on preventing morbidity and mortality associated with common chronic diseases, indicate that adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity PA >5 days per week. However, worldwide rates of PA remain low, indicating a great need for large-scale implementation of evidence-based PA interventions. We briefly present practical aspects of intervention planning, implementation and evaluation within common community settings. The first stage of intervention planning is formative research, which allows for a better understanding of the elements needed for a successful intervention. Partnering with community settings (schools, worksites, faith-based organizations and healthcare organizations) offers many benefits and the opportunity to reach specific populations. Setting-based approaches allow for multilevel strategies, ranging from individual-based programmes and educational initiatives to physical and social environmental changes. Various settings such as healthcare, worksite, and school- and community-based settings are discussed. Intervention delivery methods and strategies can range, depending on the population and setting targeted, from small-group approaches to mediated methods (e.g. print, telephone, electronic). The final phase of intervention planning and implementation is evaluation. Several objective and subjective methods of PA assessment are available to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. We have highlighted the need for process evaluation of intervention implementation to provide valuable information for the dissemination and sustainability of successful interventions. Although there are numerous considerations for the design, implementation, assessment and evaluation of PA interventions, the potential for positive impact on the overall health of the public indicates the necessity for programmes designed to increase PA.
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