Background: Inactivity is a leading contributor to chronic health problems. Here, we examined the effects of a pedometer-based physical activity intervention (Prince Edward Island-First Step Program, PEI-FSP) on activity and specific health indices in 106 sedentary workers.
Methods: Participants were recruited from five workplaces where most jobs were moderately-highly sedentary. Using subjects as their own control, physical activity (pedometer-determined steps per day) was compared before and after a 12-week intervention. Changes in body mass index (BMI), waist girth, resting heart rate, and blood pressure were evaluated.
Results: The PEI-FSP was completed by 59% of participants. Steps per day increased from 7,029 +/- 3,100 (SD) at baseline to a plateau of 10,480 +/- 3,224 steps/day by 3.96 +/- 3.28 weeks of the intervention. The amount that participants were able to increase their steps per day was not related to their baseline BMI. On average, participants experienced significant decreases in BMI, waist girth, and resting heart rate. Reductions in waist girth and heart rate were significantly related to the increase in steps per day. In contrast, reductions in BMI were predicted by the initial steps per day.
Conclusions: The PEI-FSP increased physical activity in a sedentary population. Importantly, those with a higher BMI at baseline achieved relatively similar increases in their physical activity as participants with a lower BMI.