Skip to main content
Log in

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

  • Original Research
  • Published:
Translational Behavioral Medicine


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig 1
Fig 2
Fig 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. World Health Organization. Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva, WHO; 2009.

  2. Colley R, Garriguet D, Janssen I, Craig C, Clarke J, Tremblay M. Physical activity of Canadian adults: accelerometer results from the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Stat Can. 2011; 22(1): 7–14.

  3. Bounajm F, Dinh T, Theriault L. Moving ahead: making the case for healthy active living in Canada. Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada;2014.

  4. Record NB, Onion DK, Prior RE, et al. Community-wide cardiovascular disease prevention programs and health outcomes in a rural county, 1970–2010. J Am Med Assoc. 2015; 313(2): 147–155.

  5. Baker PR, Francis DP, Soares J, Weightman AL, Foster C. Community-wide interventions for increasing physical activity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015; 1: CD008366. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008366.pub3

  6. Spence JC, Lee RE. Toward a comprehensive model of physical activity. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2003; 4(1): 7–24.

  7. World Health Organization. E-Health. 2015 [cited 2015 29 July]; Available from:

  8. Wei J, Hollin I, Kachnowski S. A review of the use of mobile phone text messaging in clinical and healthy behaviour interventions. J Telemed Telecare. 2011; 17(1): 41–48.

  9. Brown WJ, Eakin E, Mummery K, Trost SG. 10,000 Steps Rockhampton: establishing a multi-strategy physical activity promotion project in a community. Health Promot J Austr. 2003; 14(2): 95–100.

  10. De Cocker KA, De Bourdeaudhuij IM, Brown W, Cardon GM. Effects of “10,000 Steps Ghent” A whole-community intervention. Am J Prev Med. 2007; 33(6): 455–463.

  11. Brown WJ, Mummery K, Eakin E, Schofield G. 10,000 Steps Rockhampton: evaluation of a whole community approach to improving population levels of physical activity. J Phys Act Health. 2006; 3(1): 1.

  12. Goode AD, Eakin EG. Dissemination of an evidence-based telephone-delivered lifestyle intervention: factors associated with successful implementation and evaluation. Transl Behav Med. 2013; 3(4): 351–356.

  13. Gubbels JS, Mathisen FKS, Samdal O, et al. The assessment of ongoing community-based interventions to prevent obesity: lessons learned. BMC Public Health. 2015; 15(1): 1–11.

  14. Glasgow RE, Vogt TM, Boles SM. Evaluating the public health impact of health promotion interventions: the RE-AIM framework. Am J Public Health. 1999; 89(9): 1322–1327.

  15. Mummery WK, Schofield G, Hinchliffe A, Joyner K, Brown W. Dissemination of a community-based physical activity project: the case of 10,000 steps. J Sci Med Sport. 2006; 9(5): 424–430.

  16. Statistics Canada. Focus on geography series, 2011 Consus, S. Canada, Editor. 2012: Ottawa, Ontario.

  17. Government of Canada. Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010 Station Data. 2015 [cited 2015 September, 10]; Available from:

  18. Paffenbarger RSJ, Hyde RT, Wing AL, Lee I-M, Jung DL, Kampert JB. The association of changes in physical-activity level and other lifestyle characteristics with mortality among men. N Engl J Med. 1993; 328(8): 538–545.

  19. McLeroy KR, Bibeau D, Steckler A, Glanz K. An ecological perspective on health promotion programs. Health Educ Behav. 1988; 15(4): 351–377.

  20. Bandura A. Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall; 1986.

  21. Bandura A. Health promotion from the perspective of social cognitive theory. Psychol Health. 1998; 13(4): 623–649.

  22. McAuley E, Szabo A, Gothe N, Olson EA. Self-efficacy: implications for physical activity, function, and functional limitations in older adults. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2011: 10.1177/1559827610392704.

  23. Grier S, Bryant CA. Social marketing in public health. Annu Rev Public Health. 2005; 26(1): 319–339.

  24. Kaplan AM, Haenlein M. Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Bus Horiz. 2010; 53(1): 59–68.

  25. Hamm MP, Chisholm A, Shulhan J, et al. Social media use among patients and caregivers: a scoping review. BMJ Open. 2013; 3(5): e002819.

  26. Balatsoukas P, Kennedy CM, Buchan I, Powell J, Ainsworth J. The role of social network technologies in online health promotion: a narrative review of theoretical and empirical factors influencing intervention effectiveness. J Med Internet Res. 2015; 17(6): e141.

  27. Schein R, Wilson K, Keelan JE. Literature review on effectiveness of the use of social media: a report for peel public health. 2011 [cited 2015 September 17]; Available from:

  28. Facebook Newsroom. Company Info. 2015 [cited 2015 September, 17]; Available from:

  29. Twitter. Company. 2015 [cited 2015 September, 17]; Available from:

  30. Sorensen, G., Emmons, K., Hunt, M. K., & Johnston, D. (1998). Implications of the results of community intervention trials. Annu Rev Public Health., 19(1), 379–416.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Jennings CA, Vandelanotte C, Caperchione CM, Mummery WK. Effectiveness of a web-based physical activity intervention for adults with Type 2 diabetes—a randomised controlled trial. Prev Med. 2014; 60: 33–40.

  32. Davies C, Corry K, Van Itallie A, Vandelanotte C, Caperchione C, Mummery WK. Prospective associations between intervention components and website engagement in a publicly available physical activity website: the case of 10,000 Steps Australia. J Med Internet Res. 2012; 14(1): e4.

  33. Davies C, Spence JC, Vandelanotte C, Caperchione CM, Mummery WK. Meta-analysis of Internet-delivered interventions to increase physical activity levels. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012; 9(1): 52 .

  34. Cugelman B. Gamification: what it is and why it matters to digital health behavior change developers. J Med Internet Res. 2013; 1(1): e3.

  35. Deterding S, Sicart M, Nacke L, O’Hara K, Dixon D. Gamification using game-design elements in non-gaming contexts. in CHI’11 Extended abstracts on human factors in computing systems. ACM; 2011.

  36. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian physical activity guidelines Canadian sedentary behaviour guidelines. 2012 [cited 2016 January 10]; Available from:

  37. Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, et al. Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000; 32(9; SUPP/1): S498–S504.

  38. Tudor-Locke C, Hatano Y, Pangrazi RP, Kang M. Revisiting “how many steps are enough?”. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008; 40(7): S537.

  39. Dzewaltowski DA, Estabrooks PA, Glasgow RE. The future of physical activity behavior change research: what is needed to improve translation of research into health promotion practice? Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2004; 32(2): 57–63.

  40. Caperchione CM, Duncan M, Kolt GS, et al. Examining an Australian physical activity and nutrition intervention using RE-AIM. Health Promot Int. 2016; 31(2): 450–458.

  41. Berry TR, Spence JC, Plotnikoff RC, et al. A mixed methods evaluation of televised health promotion advertisements targeted at older adults. Eval Program Plann. 2009; 32(3): 278–288.

  42. Bauman A, Bowles HR, Huhman M, et al. Testing a hierarchy-of-effects model: pathways from awareness to outcomes in the VERB™ campaign 2002–2003. Am J Prev Med. 2008; 34(6, Supplement): S249–S256.

  43. Godin G, Shephard RJ. Godin leisure-time exercise questionnaire. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997; 29(6): S36–S38.

  44. Craig C, Marshall A, Sjöström M, et al., and the IPAQ Consensus Group and the IPAQ Reliability and Validity Study Group. International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ): 12-country reliability and validity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003; 35: 1381–1395.

  45. Google. Google analytics. 2015; Available from:

  46. Neuhaus M, Healy GN, Fjeldsoe BS, et al. Iterative development of Stand Up Australia: a multi-component intervention to reduce workplace sitting. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014; 11(1) 21.

  47. Baker PR, Francis DP. Cochrane review: community-wide interventions for increasing physical activity. J Evid-Based Med. 2015; 8(1): 57–58.

  48. Statistics Canada. Residential telephone service survey, 2013. 2014 [cited 2016 11 January]; Available from:

Download references


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.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cally A. Jennings.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

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

Additional information



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.


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.


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.

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: