Physical Activity: Group Education

Background on Group Education

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expandWhat are group education strategies?

collapseWhat are group education strategies?

  • Through group education interventions, trained physical activity instructors or facilitators provide information and resources as part of group interactions to increase knowledge, skills and support related to physical activity.
  • Group education interventions may include presentations as well as individual or group activities that occur in classrooms (e.g., schools, colleges or universities), community centers, churches, fitness or recreational facilities, worksites and other desired locations. These interventions can increase knowledge and skills regarding:
    • information about the association between physical activity and health outcomes,
    • specific behavioral changes,
    • the challenges with making lifestyle changes
    • social support or group norms

expandHow does group education impact physical activity related behaviors?

collapseHow does group education impact physical activity related behaviors?

  • For many individuals, the group is a natural setting. People are often taught in groups, live in groups, and play in groups. Social interaction can be a key aspect of the developmental process as individuals learn by observing others and the results of their actions.
  • Group education interventions can be most effective if they take into consideration both individual characteristics (e.g., knowledge, skills) and group circumstances (e.g., social norms, peer pressure). For example, it may be more helpful to have different group members talk about how physical activity has improved their physical or mental health as opposed to simply describing the relationship between physical activity and health.

expandHow can I use group education strategies in my physical activity intervention?

collapseHow can I use group education strategies in my physical activity intervention?

  • Group education interventions may be incorporated into existing education interventions (e.g., health education classes in schools, aerobics classes at a fitness facility) or held independently. Similar to individual education and campaigns and promotions, these interventions can be designed to meet the needs of general audiences or specific groups (e.g., “targeted messages”).  For example, the education interventions can address the special needs of disabled populations (e.g., types of activity, duration and intensity of activity, environmental barriers) or adolescent girls (e.g., basic identity questions, peer pressure).

expandWhat type of group education is best for my physical activity intervention?

collapseWhat type of group education is best for my physical activity intervention?

  • Groups set up primarily for prevention (i.e., education or skills training to encourage physical activity in order to minimize risk of disease and disability).
  • Groups concerned with specific health problems and their improvement (i.e., education or skills training to encourage physical activity in order to increase flexibility, improve heart rate, enhance quality of life, etc.).
  • Groups related to general life adjustments, self-management, and lifestyle (i.e., education or skills training to increase individual’s capacity to engage in physical activity as part of daily or weekly routines).
  • Groups linked to specific physical activities for the experience of those activities, such as playing golf, participating in a walking club or training for a marathon.

expandHow can group education strategies be used in school settings?

collapseHow can group education strategies be used in school settings?

  • School-based Physical Education includes those interventions in a school setting (i.e., elementary, middle or junior high and high schools as well as colleges and universities) that foster students’ development of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and confidence needed to adopt and maintain a physically active lifestyle. Physical education classes provide students with information, activities and time specifically designated for physical activity. These interventions can contribute to the student's development of responsible attitudes toward the importance of a physically active lifestyle.
  • School-based physical education interventions train students by providing key learning concepts based on the physical, social and mental health benefits of physical activity, considering social influences on physical activity behaviors, including techniques to keep physically fit and maintain a healthy weight, and recommending safe and effective individualized physical activity programs. In Guidelines for School and Community Programs to Promote Lifelong Physical Activity Among Young People, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that schools require comprehensive, daily physical education for students in kindergarten to 12th grade.
  • Most school-based physical education interventions are intended for younger children and adolescents. However, physical education classes provided at colleges and universities can reach adult populations as well. Physical education classes are often most effective when they are directed toward specific grades in order to provide developmentally appropriate information to the students. In addition, teachers and teachers-in-training can benefit from education and support in the use of physical education classes that promote lifetime physical activity.

expandWith whom do I need to work to develop a group education strategy for my physical activity intervention?

collapseWith whom do I need to work to develop a group education strategy for my physical activity intervention?

  • To develop your group education intervention, you will need to work with experienced health educators.  Other useful partners may include senior centers/independent living facilities, community centers, community organizations, coalitions, schools, worksites, parks and recreation departments, health departments, researchers, community members, and community leaders.

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