Health Outcomes | Physical Activity Evaluation Measures

Health outcomes measures for physical activity1-4

The effectiveness of physical activity programs depends on the intensity of program efforts and the use of multiple interventions.  A rule of thumb is that the more programs implemented together as a package or campaign, the more successful the interventions will be.

Baseline

  • Determine levels of employee physical activity from employee health survey or health risk appraisal. Examples include:
    • Determine measures of frequency (such as the number of days per month) and duration (such as the number of minutes per day) of physical activity
    • Determine the percentage of employees engaging in leisure time physical activity (e.g., jogging, bicycling)
    • Assess what percent of employees are currently meeting recommended physical activity levels
    • If feasible, conduct biometric screening of aerobic fitness for employees.  Test examples include step, bicycle or treadmill tests, as well as electrocardiogram or pulmonary capacity assessment. However, it is important to note that these methods are more expensive and labor intensive than surveys
  • Determine baseline percentage of employees with health conditions where individuals have a higher risk associated with physical inactivity, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, and type 2 diabetes
  • Determine employee knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about physical activity
    • Evaluate employees’ current knowledge of the health benefits of physical activity
    • Determine the number of employees who are not physically active, but are thinking about engaging in physical activity or state that they want to change their physical activity habits
    • Assess employee awareness of existing workplace physical activity programs, policies, and benefits

Process

  • Periodic repeats of baseline measures

Outcome

  • Assess changes in employee levels of physical activity such as:
    • Changes in overall level of leisure time physical activity and in the percentage of employee who achieved recommended levels of physical activity before and after the physical activity campaign or program
    • Changes in the frequency or duration (e.g., increase in the total number of minutes or steps walked through a workplace walking program) of employee physical activity
    • Changes in aerobic fitness through biometric screening
  • Assess changes in the percentage of employees with health conditions, where individuals have a higher risk associated with physical inactivity, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, and type 2 diabetes
    • Compare health status changes of program participants before education and other programs are initiated and after operation of these programs
    • It is difficult to attribute the exact effects of enhanced physical activity on the development of health conditions such as high cholesterol which has other risk factors such as diet or genetics, or can be impacted by other interventions such as medication, but tracking this information over time gives the program evaluator an indication of the physical activity program’s impact
  • Assess changes in employee knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about physical activity ◦Evaluate changes in employees’ knowledge of the health benefits of physical activity
    • Assess changes in the number of employees who are not physically active, but are thinking about engaging in physical activity or state that they want to change their physical activity habits
    • Assess changes in employee awareness of existing workplace physical activity programs, policies, and benefits
References

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Framework for program evaluation in public health. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1999;48(No. RR-11): 1-40.

2.  US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity evaluation handbook. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2002.

3.  Goetzel RZ, Ozminkowski RJ. Program evaluation. In: O’Donnell MP, editor. Health promotion in the workplace, 3rd edition. Albany, NY: Delmar Thomson Learning; 2002. p 116-165.

4.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2008. U.S. Government Printing Office, October 2008. Available from: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 8.4 MB]external icon.