Strategies for physical activity intervention in youth
Due to the association between insufficient physical activity (PA) and chronic diseases various policy statements emphasize the need for effective strategies to promote PA. The decline in PA is particularly pronounced during childhood and adolescence, which necessitates to start intervening at young ages. This review provides an overview of different strategies used to promote PA in youth in schools, family- or community settings. Specifically, education-based approaches, environmental changes to facilitate PA, and specific activity programs are addressed. A combination of these strategies has been shown to be more successful than only relying on a single aspect (i.e. education, environmental changes, PA programs). Most often education is used in combination with an active engagement in various forms of PA. There are also programs that rely on environmental facilitation along with health education. While such multi-component approaches have been shown to potentially increase PA during the engagement with the intervention only limited research is available on the sustainability of positive outcomes beyond the intervention period. Therefore, more research, involving longterm follow-up measurement, is needed to increase the understanding regarding long-term effects of intervention programs. Along this line, a better understanding of mediators of change is emphasized. Daily engagement in PA promotion over a prolonged period of time will also increase the sustainability of the intervention. Despite considerable efforts in increasing PA more research is needed to tackle the problems associated with insufficient PA. The comprehensive benefits of sufficient PA throughout the lifespan make efficient intervention programs a valuable investment in the health of our society.