Although a number of environmental and policy interventions to promote physical activity are being widely used, there is sparse systematic information on the most effective approaches to guide population-wide interventions.
We reviewed studies that addressed the following environmental and policy strategies to promote physical activity: community-scale urban design and land use policies and practices to increase physical activity; street-scale urban design and land use policies to increase physical activity; and transportation and travel policies and practices. These systematic reviews were based on the methods of the independent Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Exposure variables were classified according to the types of infrastructures/policies present in each study. Measures of physical activity behavior were used to assess effectiveness.
Two interventions were effective in promoting physical activity (community-scale and street-scale urban design and land use policies and practices). Additional information about applicability, other effects, and barriers to implementation are provided for these interventions. Evidence is insufficient to assess transportation policy and practices to promote physical activity.
Because community- and street-scale urban design and land-use policies and practices met the Community Guide criteria for being effective physical activity interventions, implementing these policies and practices at the community-level should be a priority of public health practitioners and community decision makers.
Heath is with the Dept of Health and Human Performance, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Brownson is with St. Louis University, School of Public Health, St. Louis, MO. Kruger and Ramsey are with the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Miles is with the Dept of Urban Planning, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. Powell is with the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, Georgia Dept of Human Resources, Atlanta, GA. The names and affiliations of the Task Force members are listed at: www.thecommunityguide.org.