OBJECTIVES--To review evidence on the effectiveness of trials of physical activity promotion in healthy, free living adults. To identify the more effective intervention programmes. METHODS--Computerised databases and references were searched. Experts were contacted and asked for information about existing work. INCLUSION CRITERIA--Randomised controlled trials of healthy, free living adult subjects, where exercise behaviour was the dependent variable were included. CONCLUSIONS--Ten trials were identified. The small number of trials limits the strength of any conclusions and highlights the need for more research. No UK based studies were found. Previously sedentary adults can increase activity levels and sustain them. Promotion of these changes requires personal instruction, continued support, and exercise of moderate intensity which does not depend on attendance at a facility. The exercise should be easily included into an existing lifestyle and should be enjoyable. Walking is the exercise most likely to fulfil these criteria.
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