Systematic review of incidental physical activity community interventions

Rebecca Reynolds, Stephen Mckenzie, Steven Allender, Kirsty Brown, Chad Foulkes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Increasing incidental physical activity (IPA) such as active transport has substantial public health potential. Objective: This systematic review describes community-based and community-wide IPA interventions and assesses their effectiveness. Method: Data sources (Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and CINAHL) were searched along with the reference lists of identified systematic reviews and included articles. Eligibility criteria; 4. + weeks in duration; 20. + participants; community-based or community-wide; stated aim to increase IPA. Results: Forty three studies were identified from 42 original articles; more than half (60%) aimed to increase stair use compared to escalator and/or lift use; a quarter (23%) aimed to increase active transport; and, 16% to increase playground energy expenditure. More than two-thirds of studies reported a significant increase in IPA. Accurate comparisons between studies were not possible due to substantial heterogeneity in study design. Critical appraisal of studies revealed that the level of bias was moderate-high in most of the studies (77%). Conclusion: Due to the heterogeneity and bias of included studies, only limited conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness of IPA interventions. However, this systematic review provides a timely summary of current evidence that can be used to inform decision-makers in designing IPA interventions in the community. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-64
Number of pages19
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bicycling
  • Chronic disease
  • Health education
  • Health promotion
  • Motor activity
  • Obesity
  • Walking

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