Physical activity in women: effects of a self-regulation intervention

Am J Prev Med. 2009 Jan;36(1):29-34. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.09.021. Epub 2008 Nov 1.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Motor Activity*
  • Social Control, Informal / methods*
  • Women's Health*