University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Integrating Physical Activity in Primary Care Practice

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Communication | Health Psychology | Preventive Medicine | Primary Care


Based on a collaborative symposium in 2014 hosted by the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), this paper presents a model for physical activity counseling for primary care physicians (PCPs). Most US adults do not meet national recommendations for physical activity levels. Socioecological factors drive differences in physical activity levels by geography, sex, age, and racial/ethnic group. The recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act incentivizes PCPs to offer patients physical activity counseling. However, PCPs have reported socioecological barriers to physical activity counseling and also patient barriers to physical activity, spanning from the individual to the environmental (eg, lack of safe spaces for physical activity), policy (eg, reimbursement policies), and organizational (eg, electronic medical record protocols, worksite norms/policies) levels. The aims of this paper are to: 1) discuss barriers to PCP counseling for physical activity; 2) provide evidence-based strategies and techniques to help PCPs address these counseling barriers; and 3) suggest practical steps for PCPs to counsel patients on physical activity using strategies and supports from policy, the primary care team, and other support networks.


Physical activity, Primary care, Socioecologic model

DOI of Published Version



Am J Med. 2016 Oct;129(10):1022-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.02.008. Epub 2016 Mar 4. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of medicine

PubMed ID