Purpose: This study examined whether psychosocial factors related to physical activity in overweight, previously sedentary women were affected by a 6-month behavioral weight loss program. In addition, these psychosocial factors were examined across levels of weight loss and self-reported physical activity in response to a weight loss intervention.
Methods: Data from 165 overweight (body mass index (BMI) = 32.7 ± 4.2 kg·m2) women (age = 37.6 ± 5.5 yr) who participated in a comprehensive behavioral weight loss program that included behavioral education, moderate caloric restriction, and progressive home-based exercise were examined. Body weight was assessed at 0 and 6 months. Perceived benefits and barriers, physical activity self-efficacy, and physical activity processes of change were assessed at 0 and 6 months. Physical activity (minutes per week of at least moderate-intensity activity) was assessed using the 7-Day Physical Activity Recall at 0 and 6 months.
Results: The intervention resulted in increases in physical activity self-efficacy, behavioral processes of change, and several cognitive processes of change(P < 0.05). There was a reduction in expected barriers for physical activity (P < 0.05). Individuals with ≥ 10% weight loss reported higher levels of physical activity self-efficacy, greater use of behavioral strategies to elicit social support, and fewer barriers to physical activity than those with lower levels of physical activity and less weight loss (P < 0.05). Individuals reporting higher levels of exercise also reported higher levels of physical activity self-efficacy, greater use of behavioral strategies, and fewer barriers to physical activity than those individuals with lower levels of physical activity (P <0.05).
Conclusion: Targeting self-efficacy, behavioral strategies, and barriers in weight management programs may improve physical activity, which may result in improved weight loss in overweight adults.