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Chapter 6 Introduction

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Understanding and Promoting Physical Activity

As the benefits of moderate, regular physical activity have become more widely recognized, the need has increased for interventions that can promote this healthful behavior. Because theories and models of human behavior can guide the development and refinement of intervention efforts, this chapter first briefly examines elements of behavioral and social science theories and models that have been used to guide much of the research on physical activity. First for adults, then for children and adolescents, the chapter reviews factors influencing physical activity and describes interventions that have sought to improve participation in regular physical activity among these two age groups. To put in perspective the problem of increasing individual participation in physical activity, the chapter next examines societal barriers to engaging in physical activity and describes existing resources that can increase opportunities for activity. The chapter concludes with a summary of what is known about determinant and intervention research on physical activity and makes recommendations for research and practice.

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