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Engaging in regular exercise is a common strategy to meet physical activity guidelines. It is generally accepted that exercise programs and interventions that are theory driven and provide clear exercise prescriptions elicit greater improvements than ones that are and do not. Several researchers have further surmised that the application of periodization may be useful for insufficiently active and at-risk populations. Although periodization is most commonly used to elicit peak performance in athletes, the goal of manipulating human movement to elicit favorable health and fitness adaptations is shared by interventionists applying behavior-change theories. However, the commonly applied theories and concept of periodization have received criticisms alluding to their potential obsolescence. The purpose of this review was to synthesize these criticisms and present current opinions in intervention development, with the goal of promoting cross talk and collaboration between experts in both disciplines to address potential shortcomings and stimulate innovation in exercise-program design.
The authors are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Knoxville, TN.