Low levels of physical activity (PA) are a global concern and increasing PA engagement is becoming a priority in current public health policies. Despite the large number of studies and reviews available, the evidence regarding the behavioral determinants of PA is still inconclusive. Thus, the aim of this umbrella systematic literature review (SLR) was to summarize the evidence on the behavioral determinants of PA across the life course. A systematic online search was conducted on MEDLINE, ISI Web of Science, Scopus, and SPORTDiscus databases. The search was limited to studies published in English from January, 2004 to April, 2016. SLRs and meta-analyses (MAs) of observational studies that investigated the behavioral determinants of PA were considered eligible. The extracted data were assessed based on the importance of the determinants, the strength of evidence, and the methodological quality. The full protocol is available from PROSPERO (PROSPERO 2014:CRD42015010616). Seventeen reviews on 35 behavioral determinants of PA were eligible for this umbrella SLR. Regardless of age, the most investigated determinants were those related with 'screen use' and 'smoking'. For youth, probable positive evidence emerged for 'previous PA' and 'independent mobility and active transport' among children and adolescents. For the adult population, 'transition to university' and 'pregnancy/having a child' showed probable negative associations. Although the majority of the evidence was limited and most of the determinants were not associated with PA, this umbrella SLR provided a comprehensive overview of the associations between behavioral determinants and PA. Youth should be physically active in the early years and increase active transportation to/from school, independent mobility, and 'free-range activities' without adult supervision, whilst adult PA behaviors are mostly influenced by the life events. Finally, more research is needed that incorporates prospective study designs, standardized definitions of PA, objective measurement methods of PA assessment, and the use of interactionist and mediational approaches for the evaluation of different behavioral determinants influencing PA behaviors.
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