State of the Art Review: Promoting Physical Activity in Primary Care Settings: A Review of Cognitive and Behavioral Strategies

Todd A. Smitherman, Darla E. Kendzor, Karen B. Grothe, Patricia M. Dubbert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Despite recognition that physical activity is associated with numerous health benefits, many Americans do not meet current guidelines for physical activity. Primary care providers are in a unique position to influence physical activity, though conflicting evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of primary care—based physical activity promotion. The present article provides a qualitative review of the literature on physical activity promotion within primary care settings, focusing specifically on types of cognitive and behavioral intervention strategies that can be implemented into routine practice by primary care providers. The authors searched MEDLINE and identified 16 studies that met relevant experimental, intervention, and outcome criteria. Intervention types were defined as those involving education, advice, self-monitoring, face-to-face counseling, and telephone follow-up. Most interventions included multiple components. Within the limitations of the review, results suggest that a variety of interventions are effective at increasing physical activity and/or fitness of middle-aged and older adults, among both men and women. More research is needed to determine which interventions are most effective in which doses and combinations, with ethnic minorities and younger adults, and regarding long-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-409
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • counseling
  • exercise
  • physical activity
  • physical fitness
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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