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Behavioral Changes after a 1-yr Exercise Program and Predictors of Maintenance

HERTOGH, EMMY M.1; VERGOUWE, YVONNE1; SCHUIT, A. JANTINE2,3; PEETERS, PETRA H. M.1; MONNINKHOF, EVELYN M.1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 5 - p 886-892
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c4d964
Basic Sciences

Purpose: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: 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: e.monninkhof@umcutrecht.nl.

Submitted for publication February 2009.

Accepted for publication October 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine