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UWALK: the development of a multi-strategy, community-wide physical activity program

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Translational Behavioral Medicine

Abstract

UWALK is a multi-strategy, multi-sector, theory-informed, community-wide approach using e and mHealth to promote physical activity in Alberta, Canada. The aim of UWALK is to promote physical activity, primarily via the accumulation of steps and flights of stairs, through a single over-arching brand. This paper describes the development of the UWALK program. A social ecological model and the social cognitive theory guided the development of key strategies, including the marketing and communication activities, establishing partnerships with key stakeholders, and e and mHealth programs. The program promotes the use of physical activity monitoring devices to self-monitor physical activity. This includes pedometers, electronic devices, and smartphone applications. In addition to entering physical activity data manually, the e and mHealth program provides the function for objective data to be automatically uploaded from select electronic devices (Fitbit®, Garmin and the smartphone application Moves) The RE-AIM framework is used to guide the evaluation of UWALK. Funding for the program commenced in February 2013. The UWALK brand was introduced on April 12, 2013 with the official launch, including the UWALK website on September 20, 2013. This paper describes the development and evaluation framework of a physical activity promotion program. This program has the potential for population level dissemination and uptake of an ecologically valid physical activity promotion program that is evidence-based and theoretically framed.

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Acknowledgments

UWALK is a program developed by the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, in partnership with the Alberta Centre for Active Living and a multitude of partners. Funding has been provided by the Government of Alberta. We thank the UWALK team past and present for their valuable contribution to the success of the UWALK program. MJD is supported by a Future Leader Fellowship (ID 100029) from the National Heart Foundation of Australia. GRM and VC are supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health New Investigator Award. TB is supported by the Canada Research Chairs program. JV is supported by the Canada Research Chairs program and a Population Health Investigator Award from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions.

Author contributions

CJ and KM were involved in the initial grant application, conception of UWALK, establishing the methods, data collection and questionnaires, and implementation and dissemination of the program. All authors participated in the program design, drafting of the manuscript, and critical revisions. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cally A. Jennings.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests to disclose.

Additional information

Implications:

Policy:

With the increase in use of technology for health promotion, ecologically valid, evidence-based programs can contribute to the knowledge base and provide significant insights to aid in the dissemination of such programs.

Research:

Providing information on the development of an ecologically valid physical activity promotion program and applying the RE-AIM evaluation framework is essential for knowledge transfer across research programs, settings, and populations.

Practice:

Providing an in-depth description of the development of a multi-strategy, community-wide physical activity promotion program can provide practical advice for the development of future population-level health promotion programs.

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Jennings, C.A., Berry, T.R., Carson, V. et al. UWALK: the development of a multi-strategy, community-wide physical activity program. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. 7, 16–27 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13142-016-0417-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13142-016-0417-5

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