Originally published by 2 Minute Medicine® (view original article). Reused on AccessMedicine with permission.

1. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the intention-behavior gap in physical activity was 47.6%.

2. Furthermore, a very low proportion of non-intenders engaged in physical activity, indicating that intention is an important first step toward the behavior.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

Physical activity has several important health benefits. However, a large percentage of the population worldwide does not meet recommended physical activity guidelines. Promoting physical activity is an essential step in improving these statistics. Prior studies have shown that intention is an important antecedent to physical activity, but an intention-behavior gap remains. Therefore, this study aimed to update the knowledge on the intention-behavior gap in physical activity.

Of 3,759 identified records, 22 studies (n = 29,600 participants) were included from inception to February 2023. Studies were included if they measured physical activity, assessed intention of physical activity, and looked at the intention-behavior relationship. Studies were excluded if they were conducted on participants younger than 18 years of age or if they were printed in languages other than English. The review was carried out according to PRISMA guidelines. The primary outcome was the intention-behavior gap in physical activity.

The results demonstrated that the intention-behavior gap for physical activity was 47.6%. Intention was essential to the behavior as 26.0% of participants were non-intenders who did not engage in physical activity, while only 4.2% were non-intenders who exceeded their expectations. Meanwhile, 38.7% of people were successful intenders, while 33.0% were unsuccessful intenders. However, the study was limited by only including English language studies which may have affected the generalizability of the results. Nonetheless, the present study demonstrated a significant intention-behavior gap in physical activity remains.

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