Background: Effective interventions to increase physical activity levels are critical in a nation where inactivity is a national public health problem.
Objective: This pilot study examined whether a minimal intervention (daily records of physical activity) increased activity levels in a community sample of working women.
Methods: In a longitudinal, pretest-posttest design, 49 working women were randomly assigned at the work site level to the control (n = 25) or intervention group (n = 24). At pretest and posttest, subjects completed self-report questionnaires that measured psychological, social-environmental, physical activity, and demographic variables. Subjects in the intervention group kept daily records of their physical activities during the 12-week study, while those in the control group kept no records. In order to compare activity in the two groups, all subjects wore pedometers daily that recorded number of steps.
Results: There was a significant difference between groups in the pedometer values (mean number of daily steps) at the end of the study period (mean difference +/- SE 2147 +/- 636, p = .022) (2000 steps = approximately 1 mile). Multiple regression analysis showed that only the intervention (p = .003) was a significant predictor of the pedometer values. Hierarchical data analysis was used to account for the intra-class correlation of 0.48 within work site.
Conclusion: Results from this sample of 49 women indicated that mean activity was greater in the intervention group compared to the control group. Recording daily activity is a cost-effective and acceptable intervention that may increase activity levels in women. However, more research is recommended to study the dual role of activity records as a data collection method as well as a potential intervention to increase physical activity.