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Active Choices Program

Active Choices is a personal telephone-support program to encourage regular physical activity. A telephone coach works with individuals through regular telephone contacts to develop an exercise routine customized to the needs, abilities and goals of each participant. Coaches teach self-management skills, such as goal setting and problem-solving, to help shape exercise habits.

The program involves a face-to-face introductory meeting followed by telephone contact (one week following the introductory meeting, four bi-weekly calls, and then calls once a month) for a six-month period. Counseling is tailored to the person’s readiness for change and emphasizes key social cognitive theory constructs (e.g., social support, self-regulation, and self-efficacy).

During the face-to-face meeting, the coach establishes rapport with the participant and covers key programmatic material including a review of program expectations; the formulation of a physical activity plan and goals; a discussion of interests, motivation, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers to physical activity; and a discussion of exercise safety. A call schedule is established. During each call, the coach inquires about potential changes in health and exercise-related injuries. Then, the participant’s physical activity since the last call is discussed as well as the participant’s current stage of readiness for change. Based on this information, the coach chooses cognitive and behavioural topics for discussion (e.g., barriers/benefits, goal-setting, self-monitoring). Finally, the coach assesses whether the participant wishes to modify activity goals. Coaches can send tip sheets based on the call content. The program emphasizes building routine lifestyle activity into one’s day. The program is suitable for adults who want to be more active and are medically safe and physically able to engage in aerobic or cardiovascular exercise without direct observation or supervision (e.g., not at high risk for falls or loss of consciousness, no acute heart condition or acute symptoms of cardiac disease, etc.).

Program participants are self-referred. Recruitment strategies include a website and toll-free line, brochures, flyers, and posters, newspaper and television advertisements, and presentations to the public.

Program Manual
Coaches receive a standardized Coach’s Manual.

Fidelity Standards for Training and Implementation
Active Choices’ coaches receive an initial one-day training and ongoing training with the provincial Program Coordinator, along with ongoing follow-up and support.

Program’s Evaluation History
  • Baruth, M., & Wilcox, S. (2011). Effectiveness of two evidence-based programs in participants with arthritis: Findings from the Active for Life Initiative. Arthritis Care and Research. Advance Online Publication. Doi:10.1002/acr.20463
  • King, A.C., Haskell, W.K., Young , D.R., et al. (1995). Long-term effects of varying intensities and formats of physical activity on participation rates, fitness, and lipoproteins in men and women aged 50 to 65 years. Circulation, 91, 2596-2604.
  • King, A.C., Baumann, K., O’Sullivan, P., et al. (2002). Effects of moderate-intensity exercise on physiological, behavioral and emotional responses to family care giving: a randomized controlled trial. The Journals of Gerontology Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 57, M26-M36.
  • King, A.C., Pruitt, L.A., Phillips, W., et al. (2000). Comparative effects of two physical activity programs on measured and perceived physical functioning and other health-related quality of life outcomes in older adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 55, M74-M83.
  • Stewart, A.L., Mills, K.M., Sepsis, P.G., et al. (1997). Evaluation of CHAMPS, a physical activity promotion program for older adults. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 19, 353-361.