Physical Activity and Exercise
- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0012
- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0012
Understanding the role of physical activity and exercise behavior is vitally important to the public’s health. While it could be argued that there was a fitness boom in the United States during the 1970s, the research shows that in 2010 a majority of children, adolescents, adults, and older adults did not engage in enough exercise and/or physical activity to gain health benefits. Indeed, the lack of exercise and physical activity is detrimental to health. Exercise is a health-directed behavior that is a subset of physical activity. People engage the structured and repetitive behavior that is exercise to gain health benefits and improve fitness. Physical activity is a broader term that describes a health-related behavior. For instance, a person may ride a bike for transportation to and from work and thus gain health benefits from engaging in the physical activity. The purpose of riding the bike is not directed at health but for transportation purposes and is considered physical activity. An understanding of this distinction is important for practitioners and researchers who are studying the roles of physical activity and exercise behavior in the public’s health. Exercise and physical activity psychology research and practice are in their infancy. Most of the earlier work focuses on exercise behavior and transitions to a focus on physical activity. This is a function of understanding of the roles of both physical activity and exercise and the epidemiological evidence that shows how few people engage in physical activity and exercise. The resources described in this section focus on the determinants and theories that best lend themselves to the development of effective intervention programs. There is a progression to exercise behavior research. First, it focused on describing the rates of physical activity and exercise, then, it observed the determinants of physical activity and exercise behavior, followed by the development of psychosocial-based interventions. Currently, it focuses on the development of environmental based (built, policy, and social) interventions.
The science of the promotion of physical activity and exercise behavior is relatively young. While the health benefits of physical activity and exercise behavior are well documented, research regarding how to promote these health benefits is not as readily available. The following citations provide the basis for understanding the introductory work in the promotion of physical activity and exercise behavior. Cohen, et al. 1980 is one of the first to examine self-regulation in an exercise-behavior context. Blair 1984 provides the seminal text on how to assess exercise behavior, while Casperson, et al. 1985 provides specific definitions of exercise behavior and physical activity. Dishman, et al. 1985 provides an in-depth discussion of the determinants of physical activity, and Sallis, et al. 1986 extends this discussion by presenting the predictors of the adoption and maintenance of physical activity. Dishman 1990 adds to and King, et al. 1992 summarizes what was known about the determinants of physical activity at the time. Dzewaltowski 1994 provides insight into physical activity through a social cognitive approach, and Baranowski, et al. 1998 provides an excellent overview of the effectiveness of physical activity interventions and concludes that we must take a step back and develop rigorous, theory-based interventions. Dunn, et al. 1999 conducts one of the first studies to examine structured and lifestyle physical activity interventions. These references provide the foundation of physical activity and exercise behavior research.
Baranowski, Tom, Cheryl Anderson, and Cindy Carmack. 1998. Mediating variable framework in physical activity interventions: How are we doing? How might we do better? American Journal of Preventive Medicine 15.4: 266–297.
This review study examines twenty-five physical activity studies and forty-five correlational physical activity studies to examine how a mediating variable framework was used in current research. The results show there was limited effectiveness in improving physical activity, accounting for less than 30 percent of the variance in most cases. The authors suggest that more physical activity research should focus on the predictors of physical activity and the interventions demonstrated to effect change in those predictor variables. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Blair, S. N. 1984. How to assess exercise habits and physical fitness. In Behavioral health: A handbook of health enhancement and disease prevention. Edited by J. Matarazzo, S. Weiss, J. Herd, and N. Miller, 424–447. New York: Wiley.
Provides a detailed description for assessing physical activity and exercise. Provides the initial interview tool for physical activity and exercise.
Casperson, C. J., K. E. Powell, and G. M. Christenson. 1985. Physical activity, exercise and physical fitness: Definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Reports 100.2: 126–131.
The authors define exercise and physical activity, which helped to refine research design and measurement.
Cohen, Esther, Donna Gelfand, David Dodd, Judi Jensen, and Charles Turner. 1980. Self-control practices associated with weight loss maintenance in children and adolescents. Behavior Therapy 11.1: 26–37.
Examines self-regulatory factors associated with children’s and adolescents’ weight maintenance and overweight status. Participants who maintained or lost weight reported more self-regulatory skills than the normal-weight and the weight-gain groups. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Dishman, R. K. 1990. Determinants of participation in physical activity. In Exercise, fitness and health: A consensus of current knowledge. Edited by Claude Bouchard, Roy J. Shephard, Thomas Stephens, John R. Sutton, and B. D. McPherson, 73–101. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Provides an excellent review of what was known about the determinants of physical activity.
Dishman, R. K., J. F. Sallis, and D. R. Orenstein. 1985. The determinants of physical activity and exercise. Public Health Reports 100.2: 158–171.
Provides an excellent review of the factors that influence physical activity. The authors categorize the variables based on the characteristics of the behavior, the environment, and the person. Informs much of the theory-based research in physical activity.
Dunn, Andrea L., Bess H. Marcus, James B. Kampert, Melissa E. Garcia, Harold W. Kohl, and Steven N. Blair. 1999. Comparison of lifestyle and structured interventions to increase physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness: A randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 281.4: 327–334.
A twenty-four-month study that examines differences in structured and lifestyle physical activity interventions. The primary conclusion of the study is that lifestyle physical activity is as effective as structured physical activity at improving physical activity, cardio respiratory fitness, and blood pressure.
Dzewaltowski, David A. 1994. Physical activity determinants: A social cognitive approach. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 26.11: 1395–1399.
Provides an overview of the application of social cognitive theory to physical activity. Stresses the importance of examining self-efficacy for physical activity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
King, A., S. Blair, D. Bild, et al. 1992. Determinants of physical activity and intervention in adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 24.6 (suppl.): S221–S236.
Summarizes what was known about the determinants of physical activity and describes the types of interventions that have been evaluated with adults. The authors identify the primary gaps in knowledge and provide recommendations for future research. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Sallis, James F., William L. Haskell, Stephen P. Fortmann, Karen M. Vranizan, C. Barr Taylor, and Douglas S. Solomon. 1986. Predictors of adoption and maintenance of physical activity in a community sample. Preventive Medicine 15.4: 331–341.
This cross-sectional study provides a foundation for understanding the predictors of physical activity. The results include adoption and maintenance of physical activity prediction models. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Health Interventions
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Cultural Safety
- Culture and Public Health
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Directions in Global Public Health Graduate Education
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Pediatric Dentistry
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Foundations
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Immunization in Pregnancy
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Needs Assessments in International Disasters and Emergenci...
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Exposure to Benzene
- Occupational Exposure to Erionite
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Oral Health Equity for Minority Populations in the United ...
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Research Integrity in Public Health
- Resilient Health Systems
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- School Health Programs in the Pacific Region
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- STI Networks, Patterns, and Control Strategies
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Modeling and Big Data for Non-Communicable Disease...
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Welfare States, Public Health and Health Inequalities
- Worksite Health Promotion
- World Health Organization (WHO)