Keeping active for your health: A narrative review of theoretical models on the adoption and maintenance of physical activity behavior using a socioecological approach

Past and future contributions to the journal
By Aurélie Van Hoye, Maxime Mastagli, Meggy Hayotte, Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville

Despite growing evidence surrounding its benefits, a high percentage of the population still do not achieve the recommended amount of physical activity, and interventions to counter this have been ineffective. To shed light on the engagement and maintenance factors of physical activity practice, we conducted a review of existing theoretical models using a socioecological approach, considered in the present work as a meta-model, to describe their applications to physical activity as well as their uses and limitations. Currently, the complexity of physical activity behavior has not been widely studied in the literature, as theoretical models are centered on the intra- and inter-individual levels and not on system approaches. Most models mobilize a single level of the socioecological approach, which limits our understanding of its complexity, as it is supported by both implicit and explicit processes as well as by interactions between the individual and the environment. These are studied using linear statistical models and not dynamic, retroactive approaches, preventing the consideration of a whole system. Looking to the future, these gaps in our knowledge will have to be filled to advance our explanation of changes in behaviors relating to physical activity and its maintenance.

  • physical activity
  • socioecological approach
  • theoretical models
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