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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against behavioral counseling in primary care settings to promote physical activity.
There is insufficient evidence to determine whether counseling patients in primary care settings to promote physical activity leads to sustained increases in physical activity among adult patients. Controlled trials of physical activity counseling in adult primary care patients were of variable quality and had mixed results. There were no completed trials with children or adolescents that compared counseling with usual care practices. Data on the feasibility and potential harms of routine physical activity counseling in primary care settings are limited. As a result, the USPSTF could not determine the balance of potential benefits and harms of routine counseling to promote physical activity in adults.
The USPSTF reviewed only the literature on the effectiveness of primary care counseling to promote physical activity. It did not review the evidence for the effectiveness of physical activity to reduce chronic disease morbidity and mortality, which has been well documented in other recent reviews, or review evidence of counseling in other settings.
The USPSTF Recommendations and Rationale, Summary of Evidence, and Systematic Review are available below.
Current as of July 2002
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral Counseling in Primary Care to Promote Physical Activity. July 2002. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/3rduspstf/physactivity/