The aim of this study was to assess to which extent community-run projects including physical activity could be identified, described and analysed in terms of objectives, organisation, evaluation and financing, as a resource in prevention and treatment of common lifestyle-related medical problems. The Swedish database Spriline was used as a main source of information. Identification of ongoing Swedish activities was followed by a mail questionnaire. In total, 151 projects were eventually identified. A semistructured questionnaire containing about 30 questions was mailed to the individual listed as responsible for the project, with a reminder 2 months later. Only 52 projects were viable; a follow-up of nonresponders showed that no relevant activity program had ever existed or that the person responsible had left. Walking, aerobics and water activities were the dominating types of activity. Most projects addressed both sexes, but eight weight reduction programs were designed for women only. Evaluation ranged from 'measuring attendance' to 'scientific evaluation'. Physical activity programs may not be as systematically organised as the Swedish database suggests and cannot generally be relied upon as support in patient care, unless critically evaluated in advance.