Community-based interventions usually involve a number of different strategies and activities aimed at creating changes in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and skills that influence health. One of the unique features of community approaches is that they typically include strategies to create change in individuals and families as well as efforts to change organizational and environmental factors and policies that influence behavior and health. These interventions are designed to not only increase leisure time or recreational physical activity (e.g., jogging in the park) but also activities of daily living (e.g., walking to the grocery store, using the stairs instead of an elevator).
Community-based interventions include strategies that are implemented in a variety of places including:
- Fitness centers
- Sports facilities
- Community centers
- Public housing or other residential areas
- Physician offices
- Community health fairs
- Community colleges
- Retirement centers
Previous work in community-based settings has found:
- Community-based physical activity campaigns can reach populations that may not be reached in other settings.
- Children spend many hours after school at community organizations (e.g., boys and girls clubs). Community-based settings provide an alternative to schools and allow for the tailoring of programs to each individual child. In these settings, children may work on goal setting and skills building to improve their physical activity behaviors.
- Community and leisure time settings for group education sessions can provide support, motivation, and reinforcement for behavior change that is learned in other settings.
- Retirement villages can incorporate physical activities into their social events to encourage healthy lifestyles among the older residents.
- Day care centers have an abundance of children and can provide direct messages to parents regarding physical activity and their children.
- It is important to establish legitimacy for physical activity interventions in the community as a community project and not an experiment.