Physical Activity

physical activity

Clinical Strategies

Guide to Clinical Preventive Services or the “Clinical Guide” is the gold standard among clinician guides on preventive patient care. It addresses disease and risk factor screening and counseling about health behaviors. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, convened by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, develops the Guide’s recommendations based on scientific evidence of effectiveness.

Clinical Guide Recommendations for Counseling to Promote Physical Activity

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends neither for or against counseling adults or children in primary care settings to promote physical activity.

(The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine whether such counseling leads to sustained increases in physical activity or not.)

The Task Force notes that multi-component interventions
-provider advice plus behavioral interventions-
are the most promising to facilitate and reinforce healthy levels of physical activity.Such interventions often include a combination of: 

  • Patient goal-setting
  • Written exercise prescriptions
  • Individually tailored physical activity regimens
  • Mailed or telephone follow-up assistance provided by specially trained staff.
  • Linking patients to community-based physical activity and fitness programs.


Population Strategies

Guide to Community Preventive Services or “Community Guide” details effective community-based strategies to promote and safeguard health. These might include media campaigns, educational programs, policy changes, or regulatory action. It is being developed by an independent task force convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These tables summarize the Community Guide’s recommendations on increasing physical activity. The Community Guide Web site explains each recommendation in detail.

Informational Approaches to Increase Physical Activity

Informational Approaches to Increase Physical Activity
Community-wide Campaigns Strong Evidence of Effectiveness
“Point-of-Decision” Prompts To Encourage Stair Use Sufficient Evidence of Effectiveness


Behavioral and Social Approaches to Increase Physical Activity
School-based Physical Education Strong Evidence of Effectiveness
Social Support Interventions inCommunity Settings Strong Evidence of Effectiveness
Individually-adapted Health Behavior Change Programs Strong Evidence of Effectiveness


Environmental and Policy Approaches to Increase Physical Activity
Enhancing Access to Places for Physical Activity
Informational Outreach Activities
Strong Evidence of Effectiveness