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Strengthen the Evidence for Maternal and Child Health Programs

New: MCHbest strategies database for sample ESMs

Evidence Tools
MCHbest. NPM 8: Physical Activity

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Strategy. Community-Wide Campaigns

Approach. Implement community-wide campaigns to increase physical activity and improve fitness among children and adults.

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Overview. Many community sectors work together to implement community-wide campaigns to increase physical activity using highly visible, broad-based, multicomponent strategies (e.g., social support, risk factor screening, health education). Campaigns may focus on physical activity alone or include other cardiovascular disease risk factors such as nutrition.

Evidence. Moderate. There is some evidence that community-wide physical activity campaigns increase physical activity among children, increase walking in intervention communities, and may reduce sedentary time among adults, but further research is needed to confirm effects. This strategy has been tested more than once and results trend positive overall. Access the peer-reviewed evidence through the MCH Digital Library. (Read more about understanding evidence ratings).

Target Audience. Community.

Outcome. Increase in overall physical activity in children. For detailed outcomes related to each study supporting this strategy, click on the peer-reviewed evidence link above and read the “Intervention Results” for each study.

Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of current ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that aligns with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.

Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Implement community-wide campaigns to increase physical activity and improve fitness among children and adults,” here are sample ESMs you can use as a model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):

Quadrant 1:
Measuring Quantity of Effort
("What/how much did we do?")

  • Number of communities that promoted physical activity through media coverage and promotions such as contests.

Quadrant 2:
Measuring Quality of Effort
("How well did we do it?")

  • Percent of communities that tailored their media campaigns based on the social, economic, and demographic characteristics of their communities.

Quadrant 3:
Measuring Quantity of Effect
("Is anyone better off?")

  • Number of families that have participated in community events promoting increased physical activity.

Quadrant 4:
Measuring Quality of Effect
("How are they better off?")

  • Percent of families that report increased physical activity due to participation in community events.

Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).

Learn More. Read how to create stronger ESMs and how to measure ESM impact more meaningfully through Results-Based Accountability.


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.