Preprint / Version 1

A Rapid Review of Communication Strategies for Physical Activity Guidelines and Physical Activity Promotion: A Review of Worldwide Strategies


  • Emily Budzynski-Seymour
  • Karen Milton
  • Hayley Mills
  • Matthew Wade
  • Charlie Foster
  • Dane Vishnubala
  • Beelin Baxter
  • Chloë Williamson
  • James Steele



communication, guidelines, infographics, mass media, physical activity, rapid review, social marketing


The health benefits of physically activity (PA) are well documented; therefore, promoting PA and associated guidelines to the population is considered an important task for any government. To support the strategy development for communication of the recently updated PA guidelines, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Expert Panel for Communication was created. To help inform this process a rapid review was performed to identify how other nations may be tackling the communication of their PA guidelines and PA more generally. The rapid review used elements of the Health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) policy audit tool (PAT) created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and investigated all 195 countries. Seventy-seven countries had their own guidelines, 53 used the WHO guidelines (of which 47 used the Regional Office for Africa), and for 65 countries no guidelines could be found. For the communication of PA or PA guidelines, 27 countries used infographics, 56 had government policies/documents, and 11 used a mass media campaign. However only 6 of these communication strategies had been evaluated. Although many countries used infographics, there were no associated evaluations. As such any future communication strategies should incorporate an evaluation of effectiveness. Mass media campaigns had the strongest evidence base, proving to be an effective communication strategy, particularly when incorporating aspects of social marketing. This review provides an insight into what strategies countries worldwide have taken to communicate PA guidelines and PA promotion. These should be carefully considered when deciding how best to communicate and promote PA guidelines.


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