Concepts and theories in physical activity policy

Authored by: Joe Piggin

Routledge Handbook of Physical Activity Policy and Practice

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138943087
eBook ISBN: 9781315672779
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the main concepts employed by academics, policy makers and practitioners when creating physical activity policy. First, because perceptions of one’s ability to be physically active are informed by our views on human nature and the structures in society, a discussion focuses on structure and agency as guiding principles for policy makers. Second, systems thinking is described and its application to the physical activity domain is considered. Third, the logic of interventions is examined, as understood and deployed by state governments wanting to produce healthier citizens. Rules and inducements are considered as the most popular policy tools for influencing a population with regard to physical activity. Following this is a nuanced examination of various intervention models, including an intervention ladder, a Behaviour Change Wheel and the health impact pyramid. The models are described and their strengths and limitations are critiqued. The chapter concludes by offering practical advice for policy makers.

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