Optimising the impact of physical activity guidelines through effective communication strategies

Karen Milton, Adrian E. Bauman, Guy Faulkner, Gerard Hastings, Chloë Williamson, Paul Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Physical activity guidelines are evidence-based statements on recommended physical activity levels for good health. Guidelines, in isolation, are unlikely to increase population levels of physical activity; appropriate and effective communication is fundamental to maximising their impact. The aim of this paper is to provide a planning framework for physical activity guideline communication, including an overview of key audiences, aims and approaches.
Methods: All authors considered and agreed on the three broad issues to address by consensus. We identified key sources of evidence through scoping of the literature and our knowledge of the research area.
Results: Whether guidelines are global or national, communication of the physical activity guidelines should be informed by: (i) a situational analysis that considers the context in which the communication will take place; and (ii) a stakeholder analysis to determine the key target audiences for the communication and their values, needs, and preferences. Audiences include policymakers within and outside the health sector, other key stakeholders, the general public, specific population sub-groups, health professionals and non-health professionals with a role in physical activity promotion. The aims and approach to communication will differ depending on the target audience.
Conclusion: Communication to raise awareness and knowledge of the physical activity guidelines must be supported by policies, environments and opportunities for physical activity. Besides the intrinsic value of the physical activity guidelines, it is essential that substantial effort is put into to diligently planning, funding and implementing their communication from the outset.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1463–1467
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number24
Early online date25 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Nov 2020


  • communication
  • advocacy
  • guidelines
  • physical activity


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