Text messaging to motivate walking in older African Americans: a randomized controlled trial

Am J Prev Med. 2013 Jan;44(1):71-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.09.050.


Background: Older minority populations can benefit from increased physical activity, especially walking. Text messaging interventions have the potential to encourage positive changes in health behavior in these groups.

Purpose: To examine if a 6-week program of motivational text messaging increases physical activity (step count) among older African Americans in an urban setting.

Design: RCT pilot study with assignment to motivational text messaging group or a control group.

Setting/participants: Thirty-six African Americans aged 60-85 years.

Intervention: The intervention group received motivational text messages three times a day, 3 days a week, for 6 weeks. Both groups received pedometers and walking manuals to record step counts. The study was conducted and data were analyzed in 2011.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was step count. The secondary outcome measure was perceived activity levels assessed by the Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire (LTEQ).

Results: The group who received motivational text messages had greater improvements in step count (+679 vs +398; p<0.05) and perceived activity levels (p<0.05) than the group who did not receive text messages.

Conclusions: Motivational text messaging three times a week for 6 weeks was effective in increasing step count and self-reported leisure time exercise behavior among older African Americans.

Registration: This study is registered at www.clinicaltrials.govNCT01697475.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Text Messaging*
  • Urban Population
  • Walking / psychology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01697475