Public health strategies attempt to stimulate participation in physical activity, aiming at permanent behavior change. We assessed the sustained effect of participating in an exercise program on physical activity behavior 1 yr after completion of the program. Furthermore, we aimed to identify factors that predict sustained exercise participation.
Previously low-active, postmenopausal women originally participating in an exercise intervention study (the Sex Hormones and Physical Exercise study) were recontacted 1 yr after finishing the study. Their current level of physical activity was assessed by the Modified Baecke Questionnaire. MET-hours per week spent on at least moderate-intensity activities were calculated and used to assess compliance to the international physical activity recommendation. Multivariable linear regression analysis was applied to investigate which factors predict a higher level of physical activity in the intervention group 1 yr after the study.
Participation in the Sex Hormones and Physical Exercise study resulted in an increased level of physical activity in both the intervention (median at baseline and at 12 months = 4.9 and 19.8 MET·h·wk−1, respectively) and the control groups (median at baseline and at 12 months = 4.3 and 5.8 MET·h·wk−1, respectively). Although the intervention group did not maintain the high physical activity level achieved during the study, 1 yr later they remained more active than the control group (median = 12.1 and 7.9 MET·h·wk−1, respectively, P = 0.04). Age, baseline activity, and employment were the strongest predictors of the physical activity level in the intervention group 1 yr after finishing the study.
Sustained changes in physical activity behavior in previously low-active postmenopausal women are feasible after participation in a 1-yr exercise program.
1Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, THE NETHERLANDS; 2National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, THE NETHERLANDS; and 3Institute for Health Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS
Address for correspondence: Evelyn M. Moninkhof, Ph.D., Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, STR 6.131, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted for publication February 2009.
Accepted for publication October 2009.