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Individually-adapted physical activity programs

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Community Members Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Individually-adapted physical activity programs teach behavioral skills that can help participants incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Behavioral skills often include goal-setting, self-monitoring, positive self-talk, and self-reward systems. Individually-adapted programs are developed to align with personal interests, preferences, and abilities. Programs also include efforts to develop social support systems and proactive plans to prevent relapse into sedentary behavior (CG-Physical activity).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased physical activity
Improved physical fitness
Improved weight status
Improved mental health

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that individually-adapted physical activity programs increase physical activity and physical fitness for children and adults (CG-Physical activityCochrane-Foster 2005). Behavior change techniques such as goal setting and self-monitoring, components of individually-adapted physical activity programs, have been shown to increase physical activity among overweight and obese adults (Samdal 2017, Annesi 2015).

Programs that focus on goal-setting, self-monitoring, building social support, behavioral reinforcement, and structured problem solving have been shown to increase physical activity and physical fitness in a variety of settings, including worksites and schools (CG-Physical activity); these behavior change techniques have been shown to enhance school-based, family-based, and community-based physical activity interventions (Bleich 2018). Participants in individually-adapted physical activity programs that use behavior change techniques such as goal setting, progress monitoring, and self-regulating also improve mood when their physical activity increases by at least two sessions per week (Annesi 2015).

Physical activity, nutrition, and obesity prevention interventions have successfully used individually-adapted behavioral change strategies, especially self-monitoring, goal-setting, progress monitoring, and planning, to increase physical activity levels among African-American men (Newton 2014). An Australia-based study of a multi-component school-based intervention with personalized physical activity plans suggests such plans increase time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among adolescents in disadvantaged schools (Sutherland 2016).

Programs that combine professional guidance and self-direction appear to have more consistent effects than programs that lack professional guidance (Cochrane-Foster 2005). When behavioral change interventions are combined with exercise programs, participants have been shown to improve weight status in some circumstances (Lombard 2009Cislak 2012Verweij 2011). 


United States

Individually-adapted physical activity programs are implemented throughout the country. Programs can be implemented as independent single component programs, or combined to compliment other interventions. Examples include the University of North Carolina’s program A New Leaf…Choices for Healthy Living (A New Leaf), the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS),  the University of California’s PACE projects (UC-PACE), and the University of New Mexico’s Step into Cuba program (UNM PRC-Step into Cuba).

Implementation Resources

A New Leaf-Toolkit - Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation (CETRT). A new leaf…choices for living: Intent of the intervention. Accessed on April 4, 2018
CDC-Increasing physical activity 2011 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases: The CDC guide to strategies to increase physical activity in the community. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2011. Accessed on April 4, 2018
CDC-PA strategies - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies that work for increasing physical activity. Accessed on April 4, 2018

Citations - Description

CG-Physical activity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Physical activity. Accessed on April 4, 2018

Citations - Evidence

Annesi 2015 - Annesi JJ, Nandan M, McEwen K. Effects of two cognitive-behavioral physical activity and nutrition treatments on psychosocial predictors of changes in fruit/vegetable and high-fat food intake, and weight. Hellenic Journal of Psychology. 2015;12(1):40-64. Accessed on April 4, 2018
Bleich 2018* - Bleich SN, Vercammen KA, Zatz LY, et al. Interventions to prevent global childhood overweight and obesity: A systematic review. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2018;6(4):332-346. Accessed on May 10, 2018
CG-Physical activity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Physical activity. Accessed on April 4, 2018
Cislak 2012* - Cislak A, Safron M, Pratt M, Gaspar T, Luszczynska A. Family-related predictors of body weight and weight-related behaviours among children and adolescents: A systematic umbrella review. Child: Care, Health and Development. 2012;38(3):321-31. Accessed on April 4, 2018
Cochrane-Foster 2005* - Foster C, Hillsdon M, Thorogood M, Kaur A, Wedatilake T. Interventions for promoting physical activity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2005;(1):CD003180. Accessed on April 4, 2018
Lombard 2009 - Lombard CB, Deeks AA, Teede HJ. A systematic review of interventions aimed at the prevention of weight gain in adults. Public Health Nutrition. 2009;12(11):2236-46. Accessed on April 11, 2018
Newton 2014 - Newton RL, Griffith DM, Kearney WB, Bennett GG. A systematic review of weight loss, physical activity and dietary interventions involving African American men. Obesity Reviews. 2014;15(S4):93-106. Accessed on April 4, 2018
Samdal 2017 - Samdal GB, Eide GE, Barth T, Williams G, Meland E. Effective behaviour change techniques for physical activity and healthy eating in overweight and obese adults; Systematic review and meta-regression analyses. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2017;14:42. Accessed on April 4, 2018
Sutherland 2016 - Sutherland R, Campbell E, Lubans DR, et al. ‘Physical Activity 4 Everyone’ school-based intervention to prevent decline in adolescent physical activity levels: 12 month (mid-intervention) report on a cluster randomised trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016;50:488-495. Accessed on April 4, 2018
Verweij 2011* - Verweij LM, Coffeng J, van Mechelen W, Proper KI. Meta-analyses of workplace physical activity and dietary behaviour interventions on weight outcomes. Obesity Reviews. 2011;12(6):406-29. Accessed on April 4, 2018

Citations - Implementation

A New Leaf - WiseWoman. A new leaf…choices for healthy living: Assessment and counseling for nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation, and osteoporosis prevention. Accessed on April 4, 2018
CHAMPS - Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS). Accessed on April 5, 2018
UC-PACE - PACE Projects. Regents of the University of California (UC). Accessed on April 4, 2018
UNM PRC-Step into Cuba - University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (UNM PRC). Increasing physical activity in New Mexico communities: Evidence- and practice-based strategies. Individually adapted programs: Step into Cuba. Accessed on April 4, 2018

Page Last Updated

April 5, 2018

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