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Physical activity promotion by health practitioners: a distance-learning training component to improve knowledge and counseling

  • Alex A. Florindo (a1), Douglas R. Andrade (a2), Paulo H. Guerra (a3), Jorge Mota (a4), Diane Crone (a5), Ana C.C.N. Mafra (a6) and Mario M. Bracco (a7)...



To report an evaluation of health professionals’ participation in a distance-learning physical activity training course developed in a low socio-economic region of São Paulo city, Brazil.


In countries with public universal health systems, physical activity promotion in primary health care settings can reap results, particularly given that such interventions have the potential to reach a large percentage of the population. However, few studies proposed physical activity training for health professionals in low- and middle-income countries. Brazil is a continental country and has the Unified Health System which incorporates family health teams in over 85% of Brazilian cities.


The physical activity training was part of the fifth module of an educational intervention throughout a distance-learning course focusing on health professionals at M’Boi Mirim district in São Paulo city. The training totaled 3 h and had five themes of physical activity: (1) concepts, definitions benefits; (2) evaluation; (3) recommendation; (4) interventions; (5) physical activity counseling. The opinion of health professionals was evaluated after training by two open questions.


Out of 106 professionals who took part of the course, only 22.6% (n=24) had accessed the fifth module. These professionals were predominantly female (79.2%), nurses (66.7%) and aged 30 years or older. Responses highlighted the course approach focused on physical activity for improving patient’s quality of life and well-being, disease prevention and health improvements. Regarding the themes for improvement, the health professionals identified that there was a need to experience physical activity classes first-hand, and the need to link physical activity counseling to the local venues that provide structured physical activity programs. We recommend that further training courses can be conducted based on this model for health professionals to promote physical activity to the community in Brazil.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Alex A. Florindo, School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of São Paulo, Rua Arlindo Bettio, 1000 CEP: 03828-000, São Paulo, SP, Brazil. Email:


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