Community-based social support for physical activity

Program basics

  • Combines physical activity opportunities and social support to build, strengthen, and maintain social networks that encourage positive behavior changes
  • Can include education, group or individual counseling, or plans tailored to individual needs
  • Examples include walking groups, exercise buddy systems, making contracts, setting goals, or planning physical activities with others

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased physical activity and physical fitness among adults
  • Provides physical health benefits such as reduced cardiovascular risk, weight loss, diabetes, and general functioning
  • Provides mental health benefits such as reduced depressive and anxiety symptoms

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Programs that encourage social support, especially by including family members and friends, are more likely to foster participation
  • Partnerships with local groups such as recreational centers, community centers, and religious organizations can enhance the social support component of the program and can also improve participant recruitment and retention
  • Partnerships with physical health practitioners such as fitness instructors and physiotherapists can facilitate collaboration on program design and increase trust in the program
  • Barriers to participation can include lack of apparel such as shoes and workout clothing, especially in low-income communities, and time constraints for working mothers and other similar groups

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