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Physical Activity: College-Based Physical Education and Health Education


What the CPSTF Found

About The Systematic Review

The CPSTF finding is based on evidence from a systematic review of 2 studies (search period 1980 – 2000).

The review was conducted on behalf of the CPSTF by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to increasing physical activity.

Summary of Results

Detailed results from the systematic review are available in the published evidence review pdf icon [PDF - 3.14 MB].

Two studies were included in the review.

  • The studies generally showed increases in physical activity and aerobic capacity in the short term.
  • The 2-year follow-up showed declines in activity, back to previous levels

Summary of Economic Evidence

An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because the CPSTF did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.


Applicability of this intervention across different settings and populations was not assessed because the CPSTF did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.

Evidence Gaps

The CPSTF identified several areas that have limited information. Additional research and evaluation could help answer the following questions and fill remaining gaps in the evidence base. (What are evidence gaps?)

  • How do interventions affect various population subgroups, such as age, gender, race, or ethnicity?
  • Do informational approaches to increasing physical activity help to increase health knowledge? To increase physical activity levels, must knowledge about and attitudes toward physical activity be increased or improved?
  • Do these interventions increase awareness of opportunities for, and benefits of, physical activity?
  • Are there any key harms?
  • Is anything known about whether or how approaches to physical activity could reduce potential harms (e.g., injuries or other problems associated with doing too much too fast)?
  • What resource (time and money) constraints slow or stop the implementation of these interventions?
  • Can reliable and valid measures be developed to address the entire spectrum of physical activity, including light or moderate activity?
  • What is the cost-effectiveness of each of these interventions? What combinations of components are most cost-effective?
  • How can effectiveness, in terms of health outcomes or quality-adjusted health outcomes, be better measured, estimated, or modeled?
  • How can the cost–benefit of these programs be estimated?
  • How do specific characteristics of each of these approaches contribute to economic efficiency?
  • What are the physical or structural (environmental) barriers to carrying out these interventions?

Study Characteristics

Evaluated interventions included the following:

  • Lecture classes about the benefits and risks of physical activity, current recommendations for the amount and type of physical activity one should get, and behavioral management techniques
  • “Laboratory" sessions in which students participated in supervised physical activity, developed goals and activity plans, and wrote term papers based on their experiences.
  • Social support and phone calls among students
  • Behavioral “contracts” for an agreed-on amount of physical activity