Cost-effectiveness of lifestyle and structured exercise interventions in sedentary adults: results of project ACTIVE

Am J Prev Med. 2000 Jul;19(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/s0749-3797(00)00154-9.


Background: Project ACTIVE was a randomized clinical trial comparing two physical activity interventions, lifestyle and traditional structured exercise. The two interventions were evaluated and compared in terms of cost effectiveness and ability to enhance physical activity among sedentary adults.

Design: This was a randomized clinical trial.

Setting/ participants: The study included 235 sedentary but healthy community-dwelling adults.

Intervention: A center-based lifestyle intervention that consisted of behavioral skills training was compared to a structured exercise intervention that included supervised, center-based exercise.

Main outcome measures: The main outcome measures of interest included cost, cardiorespiratory fitness, and physical activity.

Results: Both interventions were effective in increasing physical activity and fitness. At 6 months, the costs of the lifestyle and structured interventions were, respectively, $46.53 and $190.24 per participant per month. At 24 months these costs were $17.15 and $49.31 per participant per month. At both 6 months and 24 months, the lifestyle intervention was more cost-effective than the structured intervention for most outcomes measures.

Conclusions: A behaviorally-based lifestyle intervention approach in which participants are taught behavioral skills to increase their physical activity by integrating moderate-intensity physical activity into their daily lives is more cost-effective than a structured exercise program in improving physical activity and cardiorespiratory health. This study represents one of the first attempts to compare the efficiency of intervention alternatives for improving physical activity among healthy, sedentary adults.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness*