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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jun;51(6):1340-1353. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001945.

Physical Activity Promotion: Highlights from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Systematic Review.

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Department of Health Research & Policy and the Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
Gramercy Research Group, Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, NC.
Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.
College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ.
Preventive and Community Health and Exercise and Nutrition Science, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.
Department of Health and Physical Activity, Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.
ICF, Fairfax, VA.



This article describes effective interventions to promote regular physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior that were identified as part of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report.


A comprehensive literature search was conducted of eligible systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and relevant governmental reports published between 2011 and 2016. For the physical activity promotion question, articles were first sorted by four social ecological levels of impact (i.e., individual, community, communication environment, and physical environment and policy levels) and then further sorted into more specific categories that emerged during the review process. For the sedentary behavior reduction question, the literature was sorted directly into emergent categories (i.e., youth, adult, and worksite interventions).


Effective physical activity promotion strategies were identified at each level of impact, including those based on behavior change theories and those occurring at different settings throughout the community. Effective interventions also included those delivered in person by trained staff or peer volunteers and through different information and communication technologies, such as by phone, Web or Internet, and computer-tailored print. A range of built environment features were associated with more transit-based and recreational physical activity in children and adults. Effective sedentary reduction interventions were found for youth and in the workplace.


A promising number of interventions with demonstrated effectiveness were identified. Future recommendations for research include investigating the most useful methods for disseminating them to real-world settings; incorporating more diverse population subgroups, including vulnerable and underrepresented subgroups; collecting cost data to inform cost-effectiveness comparisons; and testing strategies across different levels of impact to determine which combinations achieve the greatest effects on different modes of physical activity across the week.

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