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Community interventions to improve the promotion of physical activity


The Challenge

Community goals are typically about being healthy so that individuals do not have to think about health. However, health systems’ goals are set up to deal with disease. Clearly these goals are not well aligned. Our work focuses on helping health systems to re-align their goals with those of communities to create lifestyle change. This can be expedited by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility and affordability, where complication and high cost have become the status quo. The end goal is to assist and over-determine change by amassing sufficient sources of influence to make the required change inevitable.

Pringle et al.’s paper provides a template which can and should be replicated in other countries and sports throughout the world. These initiatives contribute to the art of public health as they aim to promote and protect health and well-being, prevent ill-health and prolong life through the organized efforts of society

Johnman C, Mackie P, Sim F. (2013) Editorial: The beautiful game. Public Health, 127; 697-8. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2013.07.008

The Research

Our distinctive perspectives on promoting lifestyle change allow us to design bespoke approaches that enhance public health and aid personal development. Using implementation science, we aim to recognise the underlying causal mechanisms of unhealthy lifestyles within communities. Moreover, through numerous innovative methods, we aim to understand the progress communities are trying to make within their particular circumstances and identify the high-leverage actions that will lead to change. Our methodology seeks to design defects out of lifestyle change interventions and deliver our offering within the context of specific community struggles.

The Impact

Our active lifestyles work has provided an evidence-base of effective intervention approaches across settings, in ‘hard-to-engage’ populations and through distinctive planning and delivery approaches. Our support for practitioners and commissioners has developed both ways to show the effectiveness of interventions to increase activity, and programmes that achieve wider developmental aims. These effects are achieved by deploying innovative, often bespoke, realistic impact measures that improve programme effectiveness in community locations with traditionally un-met intervention need. While findings appear to lie outside ordinary public health outcomes and community experience, they are products of opportunity and the legacy of our community work.

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