Background: Pedometers provide a simple, cost effective means of motivating individuals to increase walking yet few studies have considered if short term changes in walking behaviour can be maintained in the long-term. The role of physical activity consultations in such interventions is unclear. The purpose of this study was to assess the sustainability of pedometer-based interventions and empirically examine the role of physical activity consultations using long-term results of a community-based walking study.
Methods: 79 low active Scottish men and women (63 women and 16 men) from the Walking for Wellbeing in the West intervention study were randomly assigned to receive either: Group 1; pedometer-based walking programme plus physical activity consultations or Group 2; pedometer-based walking programme and minimal advice. Step counts (Omron HJ-109E Step-O-Meter pedometer), 7 day recall of physical activity (IPAQ long), mood (PANAS) and quality of life (EuroQol EQ-5D) were assessed pre-intervention and 12, 24 and 48 weeks after receiving the intervention. Body mass, body mass index and waist and hip circumference were assessed pre-intervention and 12 and 24 weeks after receiving the intervention. Analyses were performed on an intention to treat basis (baseline value carried forward for missing data) using mixed-factorial ANOVAs and follow-up t-tests.
Results: A significant main effect of time (p < 0.001) was found for step-counts attributable to significant increases in steps/day between: pre-intervention (M = 6941, SD = 3047) and 12 weeks (M = 9327, SD = 4136), t(78) = - 6.52, p < 0.001, d = 0.66; pre-intervention and 24 weeks (M = 8804, SD = 4145), t(78) = - 4.82, p < 0.001, d = 0.52; and pre-intervention and 48 weeks (M = 8450, SD = 3855), t(78) = - 4.15, p < 0.001, d = 0.44. Significant effects were found for several variables of self-reported physical activity, mood and quality of life and are discussed. No other significant effects in health related outcomes were found.
Conclusion: Both interventions successfully increased and maintained step counts over 12 months. Physical activity consultations may encourage individuals to be active in other ways beyond walking and to reduce sitting time.
Trial registration number: Current Controlled Trials Ltd ISRCTN88907382.