Neighborhoods on the Move: A Community-Based Participatory Research Approach to Promoting Physical Activity

Document Type


Publication Title

Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action


Background: There is a scientific and practical need for high-quality effectiveness studies of physical activity interventions in “real-world” settings.

Objective: To use a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to develop, implement, operate, and evaluate an intervention for promoting physical activity called Neighborhoods on the Move.

Methods: Two communities with similar physical and social characteristics participated in this study. One community was involved in Neighborhoods on the Move; the other (comparison community) participated only in the assessments. Academic personnel and residents/organizations in the Neighborhoods on the Move community worked together to create a community environment that was more conducive for physical activity. Pre- and posttest data on new initiatives promoting physical activity, existing physical activity initiatives, and business policies supporting physical activity were collected simultaneously in both communities.

Results: The success of the CBPR approach was evidenced by several developments, including substantial resident involvement and the formation of a leadership committee, marketing campaign, and numerous community partnerships. The number of businesses with policies promoting physical activity and breadth of existing physical activity initiatives (participants, activities, hours) increased substantially more in the Neighborhoods on the Move community than in the comparison community. A total of sixty new initiatives promoting physical activity were implemented in the Neighborhoods on the Move community during the intervention.

Conclusion: The CBPR approach is an effective strategy for inducing environmental changes that promote physical activity. Additional research is needed to assess the portability and sustainability of Neighborhoods on the Move.



Publication Date

Spring 2009