Physical activity staging distribution: Establishing a heuristic using multiple studies

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The purpose of this study was to identify the population prevalence across the stages of change (SoC) for regular physical activity and to establish the prevalence of people at risk. With support from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nine Behavior Change Consortium studies with a common physical activity SoC measure agreed to collaborate and share data. The distribution pattern identified in these predominantly reactively recruited studies was Precontemplation (PC) = 5% (± 10), Contemplation (C) = 10% (± 10), Preparation (P) = 40% (± 10), Action = 10% (± 10), and Maintenance = 35% (± 10). With reactively recruited studies, it can be anticipated that there will be a higher percentage of the sample that is ready to change and a greater percentage of currently active people compared to random representative samples. The at-risk stage distribution (i.e., those not at criteria or PC, C, and P) was approximately 10% PC, 20% C, and 70% P in specific samples and approximately 20% PC, 10% C, and 70% P in the clinical samples. Knowing SoC heuristics can inform public health practitioners and policymakers about the population's motivation for physical activity, help track changes over time, and assist in the allocation of resources. © 2005 by The Society of Behavioral Medicine.

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Annals of Behavioral Medicine