Background: It is important to determine if permanent lifestyle changes may result from physical activity interventions and whether health may be affected by these changes.
Objective: To conduct a 10-year follow-up of physical activity and self-reported health status in participants of a randomized clinical trial of walking intervention.
Methods: Of the original 229 volunteer postmenopausal women who participated in the original clinical trial, 196 (N = 96 intervention and 100 controls) completed the 10-year follow-up telephone interview. The interview protocol included questions on self-reported walking for exercise and purposes other than exercise, the Paffenbarger sport and exercise index, functional status, and various chronic diseases and conditions.
Results: The median values for both usual walking for exercise and total walking were significantly higher for walkers compared with controls (for both, P = .01), with median differences of 706 and 420 kcal/wk, respectively. After excluding women who reported heart disease during the original trial, 2 women in the walking group (2%) and 11 women in the control group (12%) reported physician-diagnosed heart disease over the last 10 years (P = .07). There were also fewer hospitalizations, surgeries, and falls among women in the walking group, although these differences were not statistically significant (P>.05).
Conclusions: Although limited by self-report, this study may be the first to demonstrate long-term exercise compliance to a randomized control trial in older women and to suggest that health benefits may have ensued as a result of these increased activity levels.