A comparison of Internet and print-based physical activity interventions

Arch Intern Med. 2007 May 14;167(9):944-9. doi: 10.1001/archinte.167.9.944.


Background: Physical activity interventions tailored to individual characteristics and delivered via print produce greater increases in activity compared with nontailored interventions and controls. Using the Internet to deliver a tailored physical activity intervention offers an alternative to print that might be available to larger populations at a lower cost.

Methods: Participants (N=249 adults; mean [SD] age, 44.5 [9.3] years; and mean [SD] body mass index [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared], 29.4 [6.1]) were randomized to 1 of 3 physical activity interventions: (1) motivationally tailored Internet (tailored Internet, n=81), (2) motivationally tailored print (tailored print, n=86); and (3) 6 researcher-selected Web sites available to the public (standard Internet, n=82). Participants in the tailored Internet and tailored print arms received the same tailored intervention content. Participants were assessed at baseline and at 6 and 12 months.

Results: At 6 months, participants in the tailored print arm reported a median of 112.5 minutes of physical activity per week, those in the tailored Internet arm reported 120.0 minutes, and those in the standard Internet arm reported 90.0 minutes (P=.15). At 12 months, the physical activity minutes per week were 90.0, 90.0, and 80.0 for those in the tailored print, tailored Internet, and standard Internet arms, respectively (P=.74). Results indicated no significant differences between the 3 arms.

Conclusions: The use of tailored Internet, tailored print, and standard Internet as part of a behavior change program increased physical activity behavior similarly. Because the use of the Internet was not different from the print-based intervention, this may be an opportunity to reach more sedentary adults in a more cost-effective way.

Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00200317.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communications Media*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Printing*
  • Time Factors

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00200317