Behavioral and Social Approaches to Increase Physical Activity: Individually-Adapted Health Behavior Change Programs
Task Force Finding*
Individually-adapted health behavior change programs are tailored to the individual’s specific interests, preferences, and readiness for change. These programs teach participants the behavioral skills needed to incorporate moderate-intensity physical activity into daily routines. Behaviors may be planned (e.g., a daily scheduled walk) or unplanned (e.g., using the stairs when the opportunity arises). Many of these interventions use constructs from one or more established health behavior change models (e.g., Social Cognitive Theory, the Health Belief Model, or the Transtheoretical Model of Change. All programs reviewed incorporated the following set of skills: (1) setting goals for physical activity and self-monitoring of progress toward goals, (2) building social support for new behavioral patterns, (3) behavioral reinforcement through self-reward and positive self-talk, (4) structured problem-solving geared to maintaining the behavior change, and (5) prevention of relapse into sedentary behaviors. All of the interventions evaluated were delivered either in group settings or by mail, telephone, or directed media.
Individually-adapted health behavior change programs are strongly recommended because of their effectiveness in increasing physical activity and improving physical fitness among adults and children. Other positive effects include decreases in weight and percentage of body fat and increases in flexibility, strength, and cognitive effects related to physical activity.
*From the following publication:
Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendations to increase physical activity in communities. [PDF - 70KB] Am J Prev Med 2002;22 (4S):67-72.
Review completed: February 2001
- Page last reviewed: April 4, 2011
- Page last updated: April 4, 2011
- Content source: The Guide to Community Preventive Services