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We have reviewed randomised controlled trials of physical activity promotion to provide recent and reliable information on the effectiveness of physical activity promotion. Computerised databases and references of references were searched. Experts were contacted and asked for information about existing work. Studies assessed were randomised controlled trials of healthy, free living, adult subjects, where exercise behaviour was the dependent variable. Eleven trials were identified. No United Kingdom based studies were found. Interventions that encourage walking and do not require attendance at a facility are most likely to lead to sustainable increases in overall physical activity. Brisk walking has the greatest potential for increasing overall activity levels of a sedentary population and meeting current public health recommendations. The small number of trials limits the strength of any conclusions and highlights the need for more research.