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Developing community-based coalitions and developing competences of older adults are important to promote physical activity

Ubert T, Forberger S, Gansefort D, et al.  Community capacity building for physical activity promotion among older adults: A literature review  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017; 4(9): 1-16.

Review question

      What are effective strategies to enhance the capacity of communities to promote physical activity among older adults?


      Community-based physical activity programs can offer an equitable and sustainable health-promotion strategy to improve the activity level of older adults.

      Community-based initiatives encourage capacity building, a term which encompasses the advancement of knowledge and skills among practitioners, the expansion of support and infrastructure for health promotion in organizations, and the development of cohesiveness and partnerships for health in the community. Currently, the resources available to support capacity building and physical activity are limited.

      By conducting a review of existing literature in scientific databases, this systematic review aimed to identify strategies to improve community capacities for physical activity among older adults, and to determine their effectiveness.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published from 1997 to February of 2017 was conducted. Studies that focused on adults 50 years or older and interventions to promote physical activity and facilitate capacity building were included in the review.

      A total of 3,485 studies were identified in searches, and 14 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

      This review was funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research and the Open Access Fund of the Leibniz Association in Germany.

What the researchers found

      The capacity-building strategies identified in the included studies were divided into five categories: 1) community-based coalition and network building; 2) professional training in institutions and organizations; 3) training of laypersons; 4) strengthening competence and awareness in the target population; and 5) allocation of financial resources. All of the studies reviewed included strategies from two or more of these categories.

      The most commonly used strategies for build capacity for physical-activity interventions included community-based coalitions and strengthening competence of older adults. Recommendations for effectiveness noted in the included studies varied. For example, studies identified the early involvement in community partners as well as the transparent flow of information to improve the effectiveness of physical activity programs.


      This review identified the importance of networking and competence-building in programs focused on promoting physical activity among older adults.

      Limitations to the study include a potential for publication bias and the fact that many of the studies did not evaluate intervention effects related directly to the increase of physical activity or other relevant health outcomes.


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

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