Effects of an exercise intervention on other health behaviors in overweight/obese post-menopausal women

Contemp Clin Trials. 2007 Jul;28(4):472-81. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2007.01.002. Epub 2007 Jan 12.


Background: Little is known about whether initiating physical activity induces change in other health-related behaviors. If other behaviors do change with increasing physical activity, this would complicate interpretation of differences in study outcomes in exercise intervention trials.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting/participants: 173 sedentary, overweight (body mass index between 24.0 and 25.0 kg/m2 with body fat>33% or BMI>or=25.0 kg/m2), postmenopausal women, ages 50 to 75 years, not using hormone therapy, and living in the Seattle, WA area.

Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to an exercise intervention (n=87) or a stretching-control group (n=86). The exercise intervention included facility and home-based moderate-intensity exercise.

Main outcome measures: Changes in dietary intake, alcohol consumption, and medication and supplement use were compared from baseline to 3- and 12-month follow-up between exercise and control groups, and by tertiles of exercise adherence. Data were collected between January 1998 and July 2001.

Results: In general, changes in dietary intake between the exercise and control group were not statistically different. The exercise group had a greater increase in the proportion of participants who used multivitamins (+5%) compared to the control group (-10%) at 3 months (p-interaction=0.04), but not at 12 months (p-interaction=0.58). Furthermore, there were few differences when comparing changes in health behaviors across exercise adherence tertiles.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that participation in a year-long exercise intervention trial among post-menopausal women has little effect on other health behaviors. These findings suggest that additional behavior changes in exercise trials are minimal and unlikely to bias primary study results.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Research Design
  • Washington