Aims: Sixty-one healthy, sedentary, moderately overweight young men participated in a randomised controlled trial to examine the effects of two different doses of endurance exercise on health behaviour and exercise compliance.
Methods: Participants were randomised to a sedentary control group, a moderate (MOD; 300 kcal/day) or a high-dose (HIGH; 600 kcal/day) endurance exercise group for 12 weeks. A sub-set of the subjects were interviewed using pre-determined, qualitative questions to elucidate physical activity and health behaviour. In combination with the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), a post hoc thematic analysis was conducted to connect qualitative and quantitative data in a joint analysis.
Results: Of the subjects interviewed, exercise compliance expressed as 95% CI was [96.8; 103%] in the MOD group and [82.9; 99.6%] in the HIGH group. The different doses of daily exercise equally improved various metabolic health parameters. The MOD group was untroubled by the exercise load and had a positive attitude towards exercise. The HIGH group expressed increased fatigue, less positivity and perceived exercise as time-consuming. The MOD group described themselves as more energetic, and thereby may have increased physical activity levels in areas of their everyday lives that were not related to the intervention.
Conclusions: A multidisciplinary approach provided explanations for similar effects of two different doses of exercise. This could not have been determined via either qualitative or quantitative methodology alone. The preconditions of the TBP were fulfilled, and it represents a methodological model to explain the high degree of compliance and motivation to exercise.
Keywords: Endurance exercise; exercise compliance; health behaviour; multidisciplinary methodology; theory of planned behaviour.