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J Public Health Manag Pract. 2004 Mar-Apr;10(2):116-23.

Leading by example: a local health department-community collaboration to incorporate physical activity into organizational practice.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Prevention & Control Research, Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California Los Angeles, 90095-6900, USA.


A multisectoral model promoting sociocultural environmental change to increase physical activity levels among African Americans in Los Angeles County, California, was developed and implemented. This model represents a true collaboration between a local health department and a community lead agency. Community organizations serving targeted areas of the county participated in one or more interventions incorporating physical activity into routine organizational practice, which centered around modeling the behaviors promoted ("walking the talk"). In the current study, level of organizational support for physical activity integration was assessed, as reflected in the extent of organizational commitment associated with each intervention. Individual-level data, characterizing the sociodemography, health status, and health behaviors of organization staff, members, and clients, are presented to document the average risk burden in the targeted population. Nearly half of the more than 200 participating organizations actively embraced incorporating physical activity into their regular work routines, with more than 25 percent committed at the highest level of involvement. Broad capacity and support for organizational integration of physical activity was demonstrated, with the observed level of commitment varying by organization type. Similar to the successful evolution of tobacco control, some of the responsibility ("cost") for physical activity adoption and maintenance can and should be shifted from the individual to organizational entities, such as workplaces.

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