Our Work

The Alberta Survey on Physical Activity, the annual Physical Activity Forum, and a body of original resources and publications represent important aspects of the Centre's work.

Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit


Original Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit updated and 10 new resources added

Looking for ways to support your clients to be more physically active? Our Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit may be just what you are looking for!

Watch our 1-minute video on how the Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit can help you!

Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit

Using the Resources for Counselling

The toolkit includes handouts for practitioners to use when counselling clients on starting and maintaining a physically active lifestyle. The 20 handouts focus on different physical activity topics. They are available in six languages, and a set was tailored for Northern populations and French Northern populations in partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Practitioners: here are a few tips to keep in mind when using the toolkit:

  • Each resource in the toolkit has been designed to help facilitate the physical activity counselling process.
  • Practitioners should use these resources in conjunction with other approaches and techniques used for physical activity counselling.
  • These resources are not designed for clients to use on their own. Rather, a practitioner should meet with a client to review and discuss the content of each resource being used.

English toolkit

The Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit contains the following topics:

Download the complete English toolkit (120 pages).

Spanish toolkit | Kit de herramientas de asesoramiento sobre actividad física

Download the complete Spanish toolkit (122 pages).

French toolkit | Trousse d’outils de counseling en activité physique

Download the complete French toolkit (121 pages).

The 2011 Toolkit in Other Languages

The 2011 Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit in other languages contains the first 10 topics. The NEW 2020 toolkit will be available in other languages soon.

Chinese toolkit

迈出第一步:做出加强健康运动 的决定 Download the complete Chinese toolkit (39 pages).

The new 2020 Toolkit will be available soon.

Korean toolkit

첫걸음:‘신체적으로 보다 활동적인 삶’ 의 결정 Download the complete Korean toolkit (39 pages).

The new 2020 Toolkit will be available soon.

Punjabi toolkit

A. Taking the first step: deciding to be physically active Download the complete Punjabi toolkit (39 pages).

The new 2020 Toolkit will be available soon.

Northern Populations toolkit

>A. Taking the first step: deciding to be physically active Download the complete Northern Populations toolkit (38 pages).

The new 2020 Toolkit will be available soon.

French Northern Populations toolkit

Faire le premier pas : décider de faire de l’activité physique Download the complete French Northern Populations toolkit (38 pages).

The new 2020 Toolkit will be available soon.

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About the Project

The resources that have been developed for the Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit are written in plain language and are intended to widen the choice of resources available to practitioners. We hope that practitioners will find some or all of the resources to be of practical, day-to-day assistance when working with clients.

Identifying the Need

Before this project began, the Centre had been approached by and spoke with a wide range of practitioners (e.g., exercise physiologists and others) over a significant period of time. Collectively, the practitioners clearly identified an increasing need for appropriate resources or tools that would help them with physical activity counselling, especially in healthcare settings.

Some examples of the key problems that practitioners encountered include:

  • many available resources are not evidence- or behaviour-based;
  • many available resources are not suitable for different audiences (e.g., for people with chronic conditions) or do not have appropriate content or messaging;
  • many (or most) resources are not written in plain language (for easier readability by the public, and by people with low literacy or whose first language is not English); and
  • most resources are not written in other languages.

The lack of appropriate (or quality) resources is a problem shared by many practitioners who play a direct role in promoting physical activity. Although practitioners do have access to quality resources such as the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, such resources may not be the most appropriate tool for different clients.

Developing the Resources

Each resource in the toolkit:

  • reflects the current literature and research;
  • has a focus towards behaviour change (not just an educational focus);
  • is written in plain language;
  • is formatted to ensure high standards of readability are met; and
  • meets the needs of practitioners working with clients who have a chronic condition(s) or are at risk of developing a chronic condition(s).

During the development process, each resource was evaluated to improve the readability and suitability for the general public. In addition, the resources were field-tested and evaluated by practitioners and their clients, throughout the province.

Each resource has been reviewed and endorsed by the Alberta Provincial Fitness Unit.

Project Team

The Centre for Active Living led the development of resources included in the toolkit. An advisory committee of Alberta-based practitioners provided guidance, helpful inputs and expertise.

Centre staff

  • Angela Torry, Project Coordinator and Content Developer
  • Don Buchanan, Editor
  • Betty Lee, Graphic Design

Advisory Committee members

  • Marni Armstrong - Exercise Physiologist, PhD candidate, University of Calgary
  • Nancy Becker Hallford - Health Literacy Consultant, Chronic Disease Management, Alberta Health Services
  • Taniya Birbeck - Exercise Specialist, Chronic Disease Management, Alberta Health Services
  • Steven Cheetham - Exercise Specialist, Edmonton North Primary Care Network
  • Judith Down - Director, Centre for Active Living
  • Katherine MacKeigan - Director, Provincial Fitness Unit of Alberta
  • Janice Patterson - Active Living Specialist, Health Promotion, Disease & Injury Prevention, Population & Public Health, Alberta Health Services
  • Dr. Ron Sigal – Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine, Cardiac Sciences and Community Health Sciences, Faculties of Medicine and Kinesiology, University of Calgary
  • Dr. Lorian Taylor - Dietitian, PhD (health literacy expert)
  • Lisa Workman - Kinesiologist/Exercise Specialist, Edmonton Oliver Primary Care Network


The Centre for Active Living thanks the advisory committee members for their hard work, dedication and involvement in this project. As well, thanks to the practitioners and their clients who participated in evaluating the resources. Thanks also to the Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks & Wildlife Foundation and the Government of Alberta for funding of this project.

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References and Useful Links

For each Toolkit resource, we have provided references and useful links.
. . .

Behaviour Change resources:

A. Taking the first step: deciding to be physically active

This resource is partly based on the following helpful reference:

  • Miller, W.R. & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change, 2nd edition. New York, NY: Guilford Press

Other references and useful links:

B. Making a physical activity plan

This resource may work well with Setting goals for physical activity.

Other references and useful links:

C. Setting goals for physical activity

This resource uses the popular and commonly-used “SMART” goal setting principles. This resource may work well with Making a physical activity plan.

D. What stops you from being physically active?

Useful link:

E. Benefits of physical activity

Please note: This resource was written for those who are at risk or currently have a chronic disease.

. . .

Chronic Conditions resources:

F. Physical activity and your blood pressure; G. High blood pressure: how to stay active when active

References and useful links:

H. Physical activity and type 2 diabetes; I. Diabetes: how to stay safe when active

References and useful links:

  • Hayes, C. & Krisk, A. (2008). Role of Physical Activity in Diabetes Management and Prevention. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 108, S19-S23. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.01.016
  • Sigal, R.J., Wasserman, D.H., Kenny, G.P., & Castaneda-Sceppa, C. (2004). Physical Activity/Exercise and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27, 2518-2539. doi:10.2337/dc06-9910
  • American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association. (2010). Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes: Joint Position Statement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42, 2282-2303. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181eeb61c
  • Canadian Diabetes Association: Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada (2008).
  • Canadian Diabetes Association, general information to share with clients: Diabetes and You
  • American Diabetes Association: Fitness resources.
J. Healthy weight and physical activity

References and useful links:

Additional References

The following references were helpful in the development of all the Toolkit resources.

Physical Activity Counselling

Patient Education and Health Literacy

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