Article Text


Physiotherapy and physical activity: a cross-sectional survey exploring physical activity promotion, knowledge of physical activity guidelines and the physical activity habits of UK physiotherapists
  1. Anna Lowe,
  2. Chris Littlewood1,
  3. Sionnadh McLean2,
  4. Karen Kilner2
  1. 1Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences and Keele Clinical Trials Unit, David Weatherall Building, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
  2. 2Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Anna Lowe, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK; a.lowe{at}


Objective Physical inactivity is a public health priority and embedding promotion of physical activity (PA) within healthcare systems is an important lever for change. Many factors influence PA promotion in routine healthcare practice; these include the PA habits of healthcare professionals and also their knowledge of the PA guidelines. Little is known about the extent to which PA is currently promoted in physiotherapy practice or the factors that influence it.

Methods Following ethical approval, a cross-sectional survey of UK physiotherapists was conducted. Findings were analysed and reported in accordance with STROBE (STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology) guidelines.

Results There were 522 respondents, 514 of whom were physiotherapists. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents routinely discussed PA with patients and 68% routinely delivered brief interventions. Assessment of PA status was not routine practice, neither was signposting to further sources of PA support. Only 16% of respondents correctly answered questions about the content of the PA guidelines. Only 38% of respondents met current PA recommendations. Clinicians' PA levels were not associated with PA promotion activity.

Conclusion Despite the promising finding that some form of PA promotion is integrated into most respondents' practice, we report a poor understanding of brief interventions and poor knowledge of the PA guidelines. Additionally, the majority of respondents were not sufficiently active to meet current PA recommendations.

  • Physical Activity
  • Promotion
  • Physiotherapy

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Twitter @annalowephysio

  • Contributors This study was led by AL under the supervision of SM and CL. KK contributed to the data analysis and interpretation. All members of the team were active in preparing and revising the manuscript.

  • Competing interests AL is a Physical Activity Clinical Champion for Public Health England

  • Ethics approval Sheffield Hallam University, Faculty of Health & Wellbeing Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.