CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2024 Annual Meeting and Expo

Physical Activity

Meeting theme: "Rebuilding Trust in Public Health and Science"

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 29, 2024

The American Public Health Association (APHA) Physical Activity Section is comprised of over 300 physical activity practitioners, researchers, advocates, partners, and students committed to advocating for the importance of physical activity in public health and public policy. Our section began as a Special Interest Group (SPIG) in 2009 and was formally recognized as a full Member Section in 2012. A strong, engaged, and growing leadership team, including 12 distinct committees, guides the development and operation of the Section as a service to all section and APHA members. In 2017, the Physical Activity Section was recognized as a National Public Health Week All-Star and received the Outstanding Collaborator Award. We look forward to continuing to build a movement around physical activity with your help in 2024 and want to encourage you to add the Physical Activity Section as one of your APHA membership sections as number of members is a key determinant of Annual Meeting session allocation and funding.

In this section, we know that physical inactivity is a public health problem regardless of body size. Physical activity impacts chronic disease risk, cognition, mental health, and longevity controlling for body size. We seek statements of the problem and significance that are framed in inclusive and non-weight-stigmatizing ways.

We welcome submissions related to all areas of physical activity and public health. Abstracts highlighting the theme of the 2024 meeting "Rebuilding Trust in Public Health and Science” will be given priority.

Other topics of particular interest for 2024 follow:

  • Built Environment and Active Transportation to Enhance Physical Activity
    Recommended levels of physical activity can be achieved by including activities such as walking or cycling as part of everyday life. This can be encouraged with supportive social and built environment. Submissions may address strategies to promote active transportation, facilitators, and real or perceived barriers, advances in transdisciplinary collaborations, integrated uses of health and transportation data, as well as evaluation of built environment interventions.
  • Community-Based Physical Activity Interventions
    Collaborations with communities, community-based agencies, and organizations are ideal settings to develop and deliver population-based physical activity interventions. Public health experts encourage the application of ecological models and a population approach to enhance program reach, support program sustainability, and improve health outcomes. Submissions should describe community-based physical activity programs that incorporate more than one level of influence.
  • Dissemination & Implementation
    Dissemination and implementation is often referred to as the push and the pull of evidence-based interventions. Often, physical activity research focuses on the creation of new interventions; however, it is important to better comprehend how interventions are being pushed out to people, and how the intervention is being used within a specific setting. Submissions should be specific to the dissemination or implementation of an evidence-based intervention to promote physical activity.
  • Physical Activity Among Children
    Childhood and adolescence are critical periods for development. Additionally, learning healthy habits during childhood can track into adulthood. Regular physical activity can improve children’s cardiorespiratory fitness, cognition, and mental and physical health. Submissions should be specific to physical in/activity in children and adolescents.
  • Physical Activity Among the College Student Population
    The college student population faces several major life-course transitions which influence their health behaviors and outcomes. Specifically, students may face new challenges and changes that compete with their time and energy. Emerging adulthood is often marked by decreased exercise and increased stress, making physical activity programs a priority.
  • Physical Activity Epidemiology
    Physical activity epidemiology deals with the frequency and patterns of physical activity in the population and the relationship between physical activity and health and disease. Submissions should provide information on physical activity epidemiological studies that deliver research evidence that is necessary to assess the importance of physical activity to health.
  • Physical Activity Research Methods
    Research methods in the field of physical activity allow public health professionals and health-care personnel to solidify their understanding of movement-based research. Submissions on advances in science and methodology in physical activity research will be given priority. In addition, submissions on innovative designs to meet the real-world demands will be considered (e.g., SMART designs, just-in-time adaptive interventions, ecological momentary assessment, wearable technologies).
  • Physical Activity and Disability
    Physical activity has just as many benefits among people with disabilities as people without disabilities. Yet, our empirical understanding of physical activity promote among people with disabilities is limited. Submissions should be either specific to physical activity studies on people with disabilities or include people with disabilities in larger physical activity programs and interventions.
  • Physical Activity and Environment
    Physical activity can be done in parks, trails, fitness centers, schools, and pedestrian sidewalks, as these environments are intentionally designed to foster physical activity. In recent years, scientific interest has notably increased in measuring how different environmental factors may affect physical activity behaviors. Intervening on the environment is one way to promote physical activity and improve health, but evidence on intervention effectiveness is mixed. Submissions may provide examples from government agencies, community organizations, and public-private partnerships working to increase the effectiveness of environmental interventions on physical activity and share lessons learned for more broad application.
  • Physical Activity and Mental Health
    Mental health, which includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being, is a critical public health issue. Physical activity can improve mental health among both children and adults. Mental health has also been shown to impact engagement in physical activity. Submissions should investigate novel interactions between physical in/activity and mental health or report intervention results related to physical activity and mental health.
  • Physical Activity throughout the Lifespan
    Although no amount of physical activity can stop the biological aging process, regular activity can counteract some of the adverse physiological, psychological, and cognitive consequences of aging. Submissions should provide information on how age and physical inactivity are risk factors for a long list of adverse chronic conditions, whereas increasing physical activity from mid-life to old age results in reduced rates of chronic disease and premature death.
  • Policies to Increase Population Physical Activity
    Policies can affect physical activity in many ways. They can improve access to opportunities for physical activity—for example, by changing the way communities are designed and increasing bike lanes or parks. Submissions may address advocacy, financing, implementation, and evaluation of physical activity related policies. In addition, abstracts evaluating the impact of workplace, school, childcare, and healthcare policies that facilitate increases in physical activity are encouraged. Finally, submissions on policy approaches that address health disparities in physical activity, innovative collaborations and funding models to advance physical activity policy efforts are welcome.
  • Rural Physical Activity
    Roughly, 15% of the US population lives in rural areas; however, physical activity rates are roughly half of what is attained among residents of urban/suburban areas. Further, chronic disease rates have increased in the rural populous. Therefore, the research community needs to determine what works (and what does not work) to increase physical activity in rural populations. Submissions should be specific to physical activity in rural populations, and “rural” should be defined in the abstract submission (e.g., RUCA, RUCC).
  • Social Determinants of Health and Physical Activity
    Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are impacted by social determinants of health, also known as the conditions and places in which people live, learn, work and play. These conditions reach beyond traditional public health and healthcare and include, but are not limited to, education, housing, transportation, and food access. Increasingly, community interventions are addressing social determinants of health to support a wide range of health behaviors and outcomes, including improving physical activity levels. Submissions should include research or evaluated interventions or programs that address at least one social determinant of health and the impact on physical activity behavior.

Abstract Format

Abstracts should be no more than 350 words. We want to encourage student and practitioner presentations as well as collaboration.

Please include the following elements in each abstract submission:

  1. Type of presentation preferred (oral, poster, or no preference)
  2. Two (2) measurable objectives
  3. For consideration of the Student Presentation Awards, please indicate if the first author is a student (see eligibility below)
  4. Structure of the abstract (both quantitative and qualitative research): Introduction and objectives, methods, results, conclusions
  5. Additional points will be added if your presentation will include one or more of the following components. Please indicate which components apply to your presentation by answering the three yes/no radio button questions at the end of the abstract submission:
    1. Are you presenting with someone in the Physical Activity Section? (yes/no)
    2. Are you presenting with someone in non-Physical Activity APHA Section? (yes/no)
    3. Are you presenting with a practitioner? (yes/no)

The recommendation what information to include in each of the sections of your abstract are as follows:

Quantitative research

Introduction and Objective: The abstract should begin with a sentence or two explaining the public health importance of the study question. We seek justifications related to physical in/activity, rather than body weight. This section should also state the precise objective or study question addressed in the project (e.g., “To determine whether…”). If more than one objective is addressed, the main objective should be indicated, and only key secondary objectives stated. If an a priori hypothesis was tested, it should be stated.

Methods: Describe the basic design of the study. State the years of the study and the duration of follow-up. Describe the study setting to assist readers to determine the applicability of the report to other circumstances, for example, general community, a primary care or referral center, private or institutional practice, or ambulatory or hospitalized care. The numbers of participants and how they were selected should be provided (inclusion/exclusion criteria). In intervention studies, the number of participants withdrawn because of adverse effects should be given. For selection procedures, these terms should be used, if appropriate: random sample (where random refers to a formal, randomized selection in which all eligible individuals have a fixed and usually equal chance of selection); population-based sample; referred sample; consecutive sample; volunteer sample; convenience sample. The essential features of any interventions should be described. Indicate the primary study outcome measurement(s) as planned before data collection began. Present most relevant statistical methods applied.

Results: The main outcomes of the study should be reported and quantified, including baseline characteristics and final included/analyzed sample. Include absolute numbers and measures of absolute risks (such as increase/decrease or absolute differences between groups), along with confidence intervals (for example, 95%) and P values. Approaches such as the number needed to treat to achieve a unit of benefit may be included when appropriate. Measures of relative risk also may be reported (e.g., relative risk, hazard ratios) and should include confidence intervals. Studies of screening and diagnostic tests should report sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios. All randomized controlled trials should include the results of intention-to-treat analysis, and all surveys should include response rates.

Conclusions: Provide only conclusions of the study directly supported by the results, along with implications for public health, clinical practice or policy makers avoiding speculation and over-generalization. Indicate whether additional study is required before the information should be used in usual clinical settings. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings of equal scientific merit.

Qualitative research

Introduction and Objective: The abstract should begin with a sentence or two explaining the public health importance of the study question. We seek justifications related to physical in/activity, rather than body weight. This section should also state the precise objective or study question addressed in the project (e.g., “To determine whether…”). If more than one objective is addressed, the main objective should be indicated and only key secondary objectives stated. If an a priori hypothesis was tested, it should be stated.

Methods: Describe the type of qualitative approach (e.g., ethnography, phenomenology) and a clear explanation of data collection to include participant selection, method of collection, type of data, and any relationship between the researcher and participants. This section should also include the data analysis process with clear definitions of concepts, categories, and themes. Lastly, include any strategies to enhance the quality of data analysis (e.g., triangulation, respondent validation) and any strategies to enhance validity (e.g., team analysis, peer review panels).

Findings: Provide an overview of important findings with special attention to the interpretation of findings (e.g., linking to theory). Was there any influence of the researcher on data collected or its analysis (e.g., how do the findings add to prior knowledge, did prior knowledge influence data analysis)?

Conclusions: Provide only conclusions of the study directly supported by the results, along with implications for public health, clinical practice or policy makers. What is the significance of the study findings? How do the findings build on or add to what is known? What message(s) should the audience take away from the findings?

IMPORTANT: Abstract submissions can NOT contain mention of commercial entities or authors/faculty for purposes of a masked review.

Submission and Review: 

All abstracts must be submitted electronically using the APHA Meeting website by the date published on the APHA website for the Physical Activity Section. Late, faxed, and email submissions cannot be accepted. APHA will send email notices of acceptance to abstract authors in June 2024. All abstracts are subject to masked peer review by at least three reviewers. Please remove any references to a specific institution in the body of the abstract to permit masked review and ensure fairness. By submitting an abstract proposal, the author(s) agree that, if accepted, the paper will be presented as scheduled. 

APHA Physical Activity Section Awards

Note: All abstract submissions will be considered for these awards. No separate submission is necessary.

1. APHA Physical Activity Section Student Presentation Awards

Awards will be given for the most outstanding student oral and poster presentation submitted to the Physical Activity Section and related to at least one of the Physical Activity Section topics of interest (please see above) in the Call for Abstracts.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Student should be the first author on the abstract.
  • Student should be the abstract presenter at the annual meeting.

All student abstract submissions will be considered for these awards. No separate submission is necessary, but please indicate if the first author is a student.

2. Physical Activity Section Steven P. Hooker Research Award      

An award will be given for the most outstanding research abstract submitted to the Physical Activity Section and is related to at least one of the Physical Activity Section topics of interest (please see above) in the Call for Abstracts. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Candidate should be the first author on the abstract.
  • Candidate should be the abstract presenter at the annual meeting.

 Evaluation and selection of award winners

The awards committee will select nominees for each award. A panel made up of the Physical Activity Section Leadership Team will attend the nominated oral and poster sessions to judge the presentations. All submissions to the Physical Activity Section will be considered  based upon both abstract scores and the above noted eligibility. Finalists for each award will be identified by the awards committee and judges will rate the presentations on a set of criteria including: overall presentation organization & visual quality, presentation delivery, overall research quality, clear statement of the problem related to physical inactivity rather than body weight, significance and innovation, and ability to answer audience questions.

The award finalists will be named at the Physical Activity Section social event at 2024 Annual Meeting and the winners will be announced via email shortly following the meeting.


Program Planner Contact Information:

Chelsey Kirkland,


Grace Forlines, BS