Background and significance: Increasing incidental physical activity (PA) such as active transport has substantial public health potential. We a) present results of a systematic review of community-based and community-wide incidental PA interventions and b) detail how these findings contributed to the Greater Geelong PA Strategy (The Strategy) in the City of Greater Geelong, VIC.
Methods: 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 incidentalPA.
Major findings: a) Forty-three studies were identified from 42 original articles; 60% aimed to increase stair use compared to escalator and/or lift use; 23% aimed to increase active transport; and, 16% to increase playground energy expenditure. More than two-thirds of studies reported a significant increase in incidental PA. 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 studies (1). b) Evidence from the systematic review underpinned to The Strategy, which is currently being delivered in the City of Greater Geelong and is contributing to a regional PA strategy for five Councils.
Conclusions: a) Due to the heterogeneity and bias of included studies, only limited conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness of incidental PA interventions. However, this systematic review provides a timely summary of current evidence that can be used to inform decision-makers in designing incidental PA interventions in the community. b) The Strategy has fostered an environment that supports PA and has served as a catalyst for integrating planning at a local and regional level as well as across sectors and disciplines. The Strategy adopts a whole-of-population approach and focuses on identifying interventions in facility development, policies, programs and services that are cost-effective and most likely to succeed in increasing people’s ongoing participation in PA.