Community-based interventions to promote physical activity (PA) among older adults are of high interest in health promotion since they promise to be effective strategies to reach this population group. Community capacity building, that is, the local promotion of knowledge, skills, commitment, structures, and leadership, is among the recommended core strategies. However, little guidance is provided on how to achieve a high degree of community capacity. This study aims to identify practical strategies to enhance community capacities for PA promotion among older adults (50 years or older) and to evaluate their success. A literature review was conducted using scientific databases (PsycInfo and Web of Sciences) and grey literature (national and international project databases), and 14 studies (16 articles) were identified. Five groups of capacity building strategies emerged from the literature: (1) building community coalitions and networks, (2) training of professionals, (3) training of laypersons, (4) strengthening competence and awareness in the target population, and (5) allocation of financial resources. All studies used more than one strategy. Coalition building and strengthening competence and awareness were most frequently used. Feasibility and acceptability of the capacity building strategies were demonstrated. However, intervention effects on PA behavior and other relevant outcomes were inconsistent. The one study that systematically compared different capacity building approaches did not find any evidence for beneficial effects of intensified capacity building. More rigorous research evaluating the efficacy of specific strategies to enhance community capacities for PA promotion is needed.
Keywords: capacity building; community; elderly; physical activity.