Background: A physically active lifestyle during midlife is critical to the maintenance of high physical functioning. This study tested whether an intervention that combined information with cognitive-behavioral strategies had a better effect on women's physical activity than an information-only intervention.
Design: A 4-month longitudinal RCT comparing two brief interventions was conducted between July 2003 and September 2004. Analyses were completed in June 2008.
Setting and participants: 256 women aged 30-50 years in a large metropolitan area in Germany.
Intervention: The study compared a health information intervention with an information + self-regulation intervention. All participants received the same information intervention; participants in the information + self-regulation group additionally learned a technique that integrates mental contrasting with implementation intentions.
Main outcome measures: Self-reported minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week.
Results: Participants in the information + self-regulation group were twice as physically active (i.e., nearly 1 hour more per week) as participants in the information group. This difference appeared as early as the first week after intervention and was maintained over the course of the 4 months. Participants in the information group slightly increased their baseline physical activity after intervention.
Conclusions: Women who learned a self-regulation technique during an information session were substantially more active than women who participated in only the information session. The self-regulation technique should be tested further as a tool for increasing the impact of interventions on behavioral change.