416 Some evidence of benefit in face-to-face interventions for promoting physical activity

May 03, 2014

PEARLS 416, January 2014, written by Brian R McAvoy.

Clinical question
How effective are face-to-face interventions for promoting physical activity in community-dwelling adults?

Bottom line
Compared with placebo, minimal or no interventions, face-to-face interventions successfully supported adults' attempts to become active and fitter (eg, with personal counselling and advice, feedback and offering choices of exercise, and supervision). Outcomes (self-reported physical activity, cardiovascular fitness) were improved if the intervention comprised a specified type of physical activity and was supervised by a non-health professional using a combination of group and individual approaches. New physical activity could be maintained for up to at least 1 year and did not increase the risk of falls or exercise-related injuries.


Owing to the clinical and statistical heterogeneity of the studies, only limited conclusions could be drawn about the effectiveness of individual components of the interventions. The long-term impact, cost effectiveness and rates of adverse events for these interventions were not established because the majority of studies stopped after 12 months.

Participating in insufficient amounts of physical activity leads to an increased risk of a number of chronic diseases, and physical and mental health problems. Regular physical activity should be a goal for all adults and can provide social, emotional and physical health benefits. The majority of adults are not active at recommended levels.

Cochrane Systematic Review
Richards J et al. Face-to-face interventions for promoting physical activity. Cochrane Reviews, 2013, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD010392.DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD010392.pub2. This review contains 10 studies involving 6292 participants.

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.