|ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE To describe the steps involved in evidence-based decision making for the implementation of programs aimed at the promotion of physical activity. METHODS It is a descriptive, cross-sectional study with quali-quantitative approach, held with municipal health secretaries chosen deliberately by regional health representatives of the state of Paraná. A total of 27 secretaries participated in a telephone interview consisting of 17 open questions. Content analysis was conducted according to the categories of an evidence-based decision-making model consisting of seven steps. RESULTS None of the participants employed every step of the evidence-based decision-making model. The steps that were most often mentioned included: evaluation of the program (33.3%), use of evidence from the literature (22.2%) and identification of the problem (22.2%). The steps that were reported the least included: quantification of the problem (14.8%), development and prioritization of actions (14.8%), development of the plan of action (14.8%) and evaluation of the community (3.7%). CONCLUSIONS The use of evidence-based decision making in the context of the promotion of physical activity was shown to be incipient among the health secretaries of the state of Paraná. We suggest widening dissemination and training on the use of evidence-based decision making among municipal administrators to increase the effectiveness of actions for promotion of physical activity.