A systematic review of workplace health promotion interventions for increasing physical activity

Br J Health Psychol. 2014 Feb;19(1):149-80. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12052. Epub 2013 Jul 4.


Purpose: The benefits of an active lifestyle are widely documented, yet studies show that only a small proportion of adults engage in sufficient levels of physical activity. The workplace presents an ideal avenue for delivering initiatives to promote physical activity, overcoming commonly cited barriers such as a 'lack of time' and providing access to a large intersection of society. The purpose of this study was to (1) explore the types of interventions workplaces implement to promote physical activity among staff, (2) describe the characteristics of those interventions, (3) understand whether these interventions positively impact on activity levels, and (4) assess the methodological quality of studies.

Methods: A systematic review of workplace physical activity interventions published up to April 2011 was conducted to identify types of interventions and their outcomes.

Results: Of the 58 studies included, the majority utilized health promotion initiatives. There were six physical activity/exercise interventions, 13 counselling/support interventions, and 39 health promotion messages/information interventions. Thirty-two of these studies showed a statistically significant increase in a measure of physical activity against a control group at follow-up.

Conclusions: While the studies included in this review show some evidence that workplace physical activity interventions can be efficacious, overall the results are inconclusive. Despite the proliferation of research in this area, there is still a need for more well-designed studies to fully determine the effectiveness of workplace interventions for increasing physical activity and to identify the types of interventions that show the most promise.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Motor Activity*
  • Occupational Health Services / methods*