Background: Mediated physical activity interventions can reach large numbers of people at low cost. Programs delivered through the mail that target the stage of motivational readiness have been shown to increase activity. Communication technology (websites and e-mail) might provide a means for delivering similar programs.
Methods: Randomized trial conducted between August and October 2001. Participants included staff at an Australian university (n=655; mean age=43, standard deviation, 10 years). Participants were randomized to either an 8-week, stage-targeted print program (Print) or 8-week, stage-targeted website (Web) program. The main outcome was change in self-reported physical activity.
Results: There was no significant increase in total reported physical activity within or between groups when analyzed by intention to treat (F [1,653]=0.41, p=0.52). There was a significant increase in total physical activity reported by the Print participants who were inactive at baseline (t [1,173]=-2.21, p=0.04), and a significant decrease in the average time spent sitting on a weekday in the Web group (t [1,326]=2.2, p=0.03).
Conclusions: There were no differences between the Print and Web program effects on reported physical activity. The Print group demonstrated slightly larger effects and a higher level of recognition of program materials.