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Physical Activity: Awareness and Education


  • Physical activity,
  • Social environment,
  • Community,
  • Facilities & organizations,
  • Schools,
  • Workplace,

Awareness and Education

Regular physical activity is important because it reduces the risk of diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. In 2015, approximately 994 new cancers diagnosed in Alberta were linked to low physical activity.1 Getting enough physical activity can also be positively influenced by community environments.

Research shows that awareness and education campaigns can promote physical activity in the community.2-7 Awareness or education campaigns can shed light on the benefits of physical activity or can be centered on an activity in your community related to physical activity. 

Ways to get started

  • Collobrate with relevant stakesholders to create physical activity public awareness and education campaigns.
  • Work with young people, parents, healthcare and social workers and educators and others to tailor your messages.2-8,10,11
  • Highlight key messages that define and kick-start your campaign (e.g. the importance of lifelong physical activity and active play).8,9 Ensure alignment with national guidelines, such as the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.
  • Consider reach, cost, duration, media (e.g., social, print, word of mouth, education sessions), when designing campaigns. Also consider culture, mobility, age and potential financial barriers.
  • Align activities with and share resources on the benefits of physical activity during existing programs or at popular events
  • Collaborate with schools, organizations and facilities to raise awareness of existing physical activity programs and how they can get involved.
  • Work with your municipality to include physical activity in community plans. Transportation networks can help build physical activity into daily routines. Access to natural environments encourages active recreation.


For further action to increase physical activity in your community, see

Multi-component community-wide interventions that increase awareness about and provide opportunities for physical activity in your community will have greater impact than implementing one-off strategies.

Evaluation measures the impact of all the hard work that went into developing a community initiative. Evaluating impact examines:

  1. What you expect to learn or change
  2. What you measure and report
  3. How to measure impact

 What you expect to learn about awareness and education may include:

  • Learning that the strategy was implemented as planned
  • Learning that the strategy reached those you wanted to reach
  • Increased knowledge on topic
  • Intent to share knowledge

Physical Activity: Awareness and Education

  1. Friedenreich CM, Barberio AM, Pader J, Poirier AE, Ruan Y, Grevers X, Walter SD, Villeneuve PJ, Brenner DR. Estimates of the current and future burden of cancer attributable to lack of physical activity in Canada. Preventive Medicine. 2019;122:65-72.
  2. Williams G, Hamm MP, Shulhan J, Vandermeer B, Hartling L. Social media interventions for diet and exercise behaviours: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ Open. 2014;4(2):e003926. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003926. Available from:
  3. BC Ministry of Health. Evidence review: healthy living – physical activity and healthy eating. CORE public health functions for BC. Victoria (BC): BC Ministry of Health; 2006. Available from:
  4. All-Party Commission on Physical Activity. Tackling physical inactivity: a coordinated approach. London (UK): All-Party Commission on Physical Activity; 2014. Available from:
  5. Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendations to increase physical activity in communities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2002;22(4S):67-72. Available from:
  6. World Health Organization (WHO). Interventions on diet and physical activity: what works: summary report. Geneva (SW): World Health Organization; 2009. Available from:
  7. MacArthur Group Inc. Physical activity strategy for Prince Edward Island 2004-2009. Charlottetown (PE): MacArthur Group; 2004. Available from:
  8. Garcia J, Beyers J, Uetrecht C, et al. Healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weights guideline for public health in Ontario. Toronto (ON): Cancer Care Ontario, Program in Evidence-based Care; 2010. Available from:
  9. Community Preventive Services Task Force, CDC. Behavioral and social approaches to increase physical activity: Social support interventions in community settings. The community guide. Washington (DC): CDC; 2014. Available from:
  10. Committee on Physical Activity, Health, Transportation and Land Use. Does the built environment influence physical activity? Examining the evidence. Transportation Research Board Special Report 282. Washington (DC): The National Academies Press; 2005. Available from:
  11. Community Preventive Services Task Force, CDC. Campaigns and informational approaches to increase physical activity: Community-wide campaigns. The community guide. Washington (DC): CDC; 2014. Available from:
  12. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Physical activity for children and young people. NICE guideline. London (UK): National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2009. Available from:
  13. Koplan JP, Liverman CT, Kraak VA. Preventing childhood obesity: health in the balance. Washington (DC): National Academies Press; 2005. Available from: