Adherence to exercise prescriptions: effects of prescribing moderate versus higher levels of intensity and frequency

Health Psychol. 2002 Sep;21(5):452-8.


Sedentary adults (N = 379) were randomly assigned in a 2 x 2 design to walk 30 min per day at a frequency of either 3-4 or 5-7 days per week, at an intensity of either 45%-55% or 65%-75% of maximum heart rate reserve. Analyses of exercise accumulated over 6 months showed greater amounts completed in the higher frequency (p = .0001) and moderate intensity (p = .021) conditions. Analyses of percentage of prescribed exercise completed showed greater adherence in the moderate intensity(p = .02) condition. Prescribing a higher frequency increased the accumulation of exercise without a decline in adherence, whereas prescribing a higher intensity decreased adherence and resulted in the completion of less exercise.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Physical Fitness / psychology
  • Walking / psychology