Results of the "Active by Choice Today" (ACT) randomized trial for increasing physical activity in low-income and minority adolescents

Health Psychol. 2011 Jul;30(4):463-71. doi: 10.1037/a0023390.


Objective: This study reports the results of the "Active by Choice Today" (ACT) trial for increasing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in low-income and minority adolescents.

Design: The ACT program was a randomized controlled school-based trial testing the efficacy of a motivational plus behavioral skills intervention on increasing MVPA in underserved adolescents. Twenty-four middle schools were matched on school size, percentage minorities, percentage free or reduce lunch, and urban or rural setting before randomization. A total of 1,563 6th grade students (mean age, 11.3 years, 73% African American, 71% free or reduced lunch, 55% female) participated in either a 17-week (over one academic year) intervention or comparison after-school program.

Main outcome measure: The primary outcome measure was MVPA based on 7-day accelerometry estimates at 2-weeks postintervention and an intermediate outcome was MVPA at midintervention.

Results: At midintervention students in the intervention condition engaged in 4.87 greater minutes of MVPA per day (95% CI: 1.18 to 8.57) than control students. Students in intervention schools engaged in 9.11 min (95% CI: 5.73 to 12.48) more of MVPA per day than those in control schools during the program time periods; indicating a 27 min per week increase in MVPA. No significant effect of the ACT intervention was found outside of school times or for MVPA at 2-weeks postintervention.

Conclusions: Motivational and behavioral skills programs are effective at increasing MVPA in low-income and minority adolescents during program hours, but further research is needed to address home barriers to youth MVPA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Motivation
  • Motor Activity*
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Social Environment