Get moving! Physical activity counseling in primary care

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2007 Jul;19(7):349-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2007.00239.x.


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to present strategies to improve the effectiveness of physical activity counseling for adults in primary care settings. Adoption of physical activity can be part of a healthy lifestyle to prevent or manage many chronic and debilitating conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Data sources: Original research articles reporting results from descriptive studies and clinical trials testing the effectiveness of physical activity counseling in primary care. Journal articles and Web sites are cited as patient and professional resources.

Conclusions: Despite conflicting research findings on the effectiveness of physical activity counseling in primary care, the importance of an active lifestyle in promoting health and well-being is well known. Yet, only one third of all Americans attain adequate daily physical activity. Implementing physical activity counseling in primary care is one method to promote active lifestyles. Some strategies to promote physical activity counseling in primary care settings are identified, including use of the Five A's approach and printed materials. Suggestions to manage the barriers primary care providers experience with physical activity counseling include brief counseling sessions involving all members of the health team.

Implications for practice: The implementation of a brief physical activity counseling intervention in primary care settings is presented as a promising method to promote physical activity in adults. Nurse practitioners can deliver this counseling in a succinct, well-planned session to promote physical activity and reduce the potential devastating consequences associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Counseling / organization & administration*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Heart Rate
  • Helping Behavior
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners / organization & administration*
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Social Support
  • Teaching Materials