Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Health Education

Web-Based Physical Activity Intervention for College-Aged Women

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Health Education

Web-Based Physical Activity Intervention for College-Aged Women

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study compared the effectiveness of a web-based physical activity intervention to two control conditions in terms of increasing walking behavior in college-aged women. Women (N=112) from a public university in the southwest were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups. The 4-week intervention featured an experimental, repeated measures design that used the internet to deliver interactive activities. Control group participants were asked not to change their activity. Walking behavior was assessed by using pedometers to record step counts daily. Data were analyzed using repeated-measures analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA). Women who received the intervention increased their mean steps/day by 38.8% while women who did not receive the intervention increased their mean steps/day by only 2.1% [F (1) = 2.61, p=.001]. A web-based physical activity intervention promoted the short-term adoption of routine walking in college women.

Key words: Physical Activity, Females, Pedometer

Introduction

Physically Inactive Lifestyles

According to research, sedentary persons engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (PA) per day. (1) A sustained sedentary lifestyle increases risk for several conditions including heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (2) and it may also contribute to early mortality. (3) Indeed, poor diet and physically inactive lifestyles are the second highest cause of mortality. (4) The good news is that sedentary lifestyles are modifiable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that persons participate in PA at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. (3) It is clear that decreasing risk for mortality can occur when individuals increase their daily activities to a level such that they are meeting standard PA recommendations and making PA a fundamental component of their lifestyle. (5)

College-aged women are at risk for developing sedentary lifestyles in the transition years between college and career. Unfortunately, very few intervention studies have addressed the sedentary lifestyle of college-aged women. Health promotion professionals are in a good position to promote PA through college-supported wellness centers. Development of effective health promotion interventions to prevent sedentary lifestyles in college-aged women is a challenge for health promotion professionals.

College-aged Women and Physical Activity

The sedentary lifestyle of females is striking. When women enter college, they become significantly less physically active than when they were in high school. (6) Up to 67% of college-aged women are insufficiently physically active. (7) Proposed reasons for their lack of PA include: (a) lack of time or motivation, (8) (b) lack of enjoyment, (9) (c) lack of purpose (compared to other life tasks),10 (d) a desire to spend time with family members who have needs, (e) and other household demands. (9,10) If women do not develop behavioral skills to increase PA during college, it is unlikely they will adopt a physically active lifestyle after entering the workplace. (7)

Interventions Designed to Increase Physical Activity

Throughout the years, researchers have designed interventions to increase PA. Unfortunately, few PA interventions have targeted college-aged women. Interventions that promote walking to increase PA are appealing because walking is the most popular PA for women. (10) Interventions that used walking to increase PA increased physical fitness, (11) decreased blood pressure, (11,12) and increased glucose tolerance. (12) Research suggests that women who walk more, as measured by pedometers, have less body fat. (13)

Pedometers are an efficient, valid and reliable method of measuring walking behavior. (14) Pedometers display "steps taken" on the front of the device and thereby, can motivate participants to walk. …

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