Physical Activity Promotion
- LAST REVIEWED: 21 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0068
- LAST REVIEWED: 21 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0068
Public health scientists are increasingly adopting physical activity as a research topic. This trend is borne out in the literature by the number of articles on the topic published in scientific journals. While one segment of this literature contributes to the mounting evidence on the health benefits of physical activity, another segment focuses on physical activity promotion. The emergence of physical activity research as a relevant topic in the public health literature can be attributed to a number of factors. First, the introduction of the health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) concept has played a large role. HEPA expanded the scope of research beyond sport and exercise to include a number of broader domains, such as leisure-time, transportation, occupational work, and household activities. The change of physical activity recommendations in the 1990s, emphasizing an “active lifestyle” and suggesting people should accumulate moderate doses of physical activity in multiple domains, has made HEPA the dominant concept for physical activity promotion efforts. At the same time, the shift toward the HEPA concept presented new challenges for physical activity surveillance. In response, several international consortia developed, which tested and applied improved physical activity questionnaires (IPAQ). Second the increasing importance of public health issues, like the obesity epidemic and increasing rates of noncommunicable diseases, led to intensified research on correlates and determinants of physical activity. An understanding of these issues is a key prerequisite for designing appropriate interventions. While earlier studies and reviews primarily focused on individual determinants such as age and gender, environmental and policy determinants have become an emerging topic in the literature since the early 2000s. At the same time, ecological models have underlined the complexity and interdependency of the various factors that are influencing physical activity behaviors of the population. Third, despite increasing public health efforts to address the problem of insufficient levels of physical activity, success has been inadequate. About half of the adults in industrialized nations remain sedentary. This sobering experience, together with the general evidence debate in public health, has further stimulated research on the most effective and efficient interventions. Today, there exists a vast literature on the topic, including systematic reviews on the evidence base of both individual-based and population-based interventions. Although research activity and publications have increased in many areas in the last decades, important research deficits still exist with regard to physical activity policy. Both national and international public health policies that include physical activity are developing rapidly, and different international organizations have issued policy recommendations, but policy monitoring is still in its infancy. Moreover, while many have argued for a strong policy approach, few have carried out the research necessary to understand how physical activity policy is made or how to more effectively develop policies from a policy science perspective.
There are some older yet seminal works that may serve well as a starting point for studying the subject of physical activity promotion. Caspersen, et al. 1985 laid the ground for systematic research employing the concept of “physical activity” by providing a widely accepted definition of the term and distinguishing it from the related concepts of “exercise” and “physical fitness.” Bouchard, et al. 1994 summarized the consensus reached by experts from all over the world in the early 1990s on central issues such as theory, measurement, and determinants of physical activity, as well as its relation to physiology and various diseases. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (US Department of Health and Human Services 1996) highlighted the need to promote physical activity in the entire population and laid the basis for the concept of “health-enhancing physical activity” (HEPA). Today, there are overviews on physical activity promotion for various audiences. There are a number of textbooks geared at the undergraduate level that usually feature a didactic structure, a large number of charts and graphs, study questions, and bibliographies. One example is Kohl and Murray 2012, which covers the fundamental concepts of physical activity and public health, the effects of physical activity on body functions and medical conditions, and an overview of the most important intervention types. An example of a European textbook is Hardman and Stensel 2009, which follows a similar approach but puts more emphasis on the scientific evidence concerning physical activity while providing fewer details on interventions. Other overviews are aimed at researchers and professional audiences and are more scientific in style. For example, Sallis and Owen 1998 provides a literature review of various aspects of physical activity and health from a behavioral and physiological point of view. The edited volume Ainsworth and Macera 2012 is conceptualized as a reference work for public health practitioners. Oja and Borms 2004 presents a review conducted by leading scientists on the current state of research from the perspective of the HEPA paradigm.
Ainsworth, Barbara E., and Caroline A. Macera, eds. 2012. Physical activity and public health practice. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
This volume summarizes current research on physical activity and public health. It covers the prevention and treatment of various medical conditions, settings and target groups, and measurement and policy development. Each section provides study questions, but the style is closer to a research publication than to a textbook.
Bouchard, Claude, Roy J. Shephard, and Thomas Stephens, eds. 1994. Physical activity, fitness, and health. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
This bulky volume is the outcome of an international consensus conference held in Toronto in 1992. It contains a consensus statement identifying 355 areas for future research, as well as sections on various topics, including the effects of physical activity on body functions, diseases, and different age groups.
Caspersen, Carl J., Kenneth E. Powell, and Gregory M. Christenson. 1985. Physical activity, exercise and physical fitness: Definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Reports 100.2: 126–131.
This article provides a basic definition of physical activity and distinguishes it from the concepts of “exercise” and “physical fitness.” It suggests ways of structuring physical activity, such as using different portions of daily life or intensity levels. It lists procedures to measure physical fitness and provides a short glossary of relevant terms.
Hardman, Adrianne E., and David J. Stensel. 2009. Physical activity and health: The evidence explained. 2d ed. London: Routledge.
This textbook is built around issues concerning the evidence on physical activity and health. It provides a chapter on how to collect and interpret data, and it summarizes the current state of research on the influence of physical activity on major chronic diseases. The section on physical activity interventions and recommendations is rather short.
Kohl, Harold W., III, and Tinker D. Murray. 2012. Foundations of physical activity and public health. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
This textbook provides students with a systematic introduction to physical activity and public health. The first part deals with the basics of public health, kinesiology, and physical activity measurement. The remainder of the book covers the effects of physical activity on different medical conditions and the most common approaches to the promotion of physical activity.
Oja, Pekka, and Jan Borms, eds. 2004. Health enhancing physical activity. Perspectives: The Multidisciplinary Series of Physical Education and Sport Science 6. Oxford, UK: Meyer & Meyer Sport.
Based on the HEPA concept, this edited volume presents a global review of research on physical activity and health. It discusses both the positive and negative health effects of physical activity. Other sections cover recommendations, prevalence, measurement issues, interventions, and the connection of physical activity and lifestyle.
Sallis, James F., and Neville Owen. 1998. Physical activity and behavioral medicine. London: SAGE.
This book gives an overview of research on health-related physical activity, with a focus on behavioral aspects and physiology. It summarizes and reviews the literature on the health benefits of physical activity, recommendations and measurement issues, and determinants and interventions, with a certain focus on individual-based interventions.
US Department of Health and Human Services. 1996. Physical activity and health: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services.
This report provides an overview of research results and draws conclusions for physical activity promotion efforts in the United States. It includes a historical overview as well as a chapter on behavioral research related to physical activity. Other sections address physiological issues, prevalence, and the effects of activity on different diseases.
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
- 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
- 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)