Obese, middle-aged women had significantly increased short-term physical activity levels when they participated in high-contact, interventionist-led groups, according to data from the Healthy Body, Healthy Hearts study.
“Women who participated in programs in their doctor’s office had a structured environment allowing them to focus on their lifestyle habits like eating and exercising, and make changes,” Molly Conroy, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in a press release.
Molly B. Conroy
Researchers randomized 99 inactive women aged 45 to 65 years (mean BMI ≥ 25 kg/m²) into two groups. The interventionist-led group (n = 49) participated in 12, 30-minute weekly discussion sessions, with topics focusing on physical activity, diet and stress relief, followed by 30-minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. The self-guided group (n = 50) received a 12-week self-guided manual, calorie-counter book and pedometer.
Researchers assessed each group for weight and physical activity levels at baseline, 3 and 12 months. Weight was measured using a standard balance beam scale and activity levels quantified using the Modifiable Activity Questionnaire.
The median physical activity level at baseline was 2.8 metabolic equivalent hours per week. At 3 months, there was no substantial difference in weight between groups, but the intervention-led group had significantly increased physical activity levels compared to the self-guided group (7.5 vs. 1.9 metabolic equivalent hours/week, P = 0.02). Mean weight loss at this follow-up was – 1.4 kg, with no significant difference between groups.
However, analysis at 12 months showed that there was no longer a significant difference in activity levels between the groups, but the intervention-led group was still more active than they had been as baseline. Weight loss remained similar between groups.
“Higher levels of physical activity are associated with a lower prevalence of obesity, and physical activity also has an independent beneficial effect on numerous health outcomes important to women (eg, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, depression). Therefore, there is both a great need and an opportunity to develop primary care-based interventions tailored for women that address physical activity and weight,” Conroy and colleagues wrote.
Disclosure: Conroy reports receiving a grant from NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.