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Promoting physical activity in rural Australian adults using an online intervention

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posted on 2019-05-21, 11:26 authored by Braden L. Mitchell, Ashleigh E. Smith, Alex V. Rowlands, Francois Fraysse, Gaynor Parfitt, Nicole R. Lewis, James Dollman
Objectives: Rural Australian adults are consistently identified as insufficiently active, likely due to challenges implementing community-based physical activity programs in rural settings. On-line strategies to promote physical activity may be particularly effective in rural settings where isolation and scarcity of qualified support are potential barriers. The Rural Environments and Community Health (REACH) study evaluated the effectiveness of an online-delivered walking intervention among South Australian rural adults. Design: Randomised controlled study design. Methods: A twelve-week intervention, with six- and twelve-month follow-up, was conducted. Participants (n = 171; 50.6 ± 12.5 years), recruited through flyers, local newspapers and radio, were randomised to comparison or intervention groups and received a pedometer. The intervention group received access to the REACH website and personalised step goals based on ratings of perceived exertion and daily affect. The comparison group received a paper diary and generic step goals. Outcome measures were accelerometry-assessed sedentary, light (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) physical activity. Linear mixed models assessed changes over the intervention and follow-ups. Results: Sedentary time decreased, and LPA and MVPA increased in both groups across the intervention (p < 0.05). The intervention group demonstrated a larger increase in LPA at six-month follow-up relative to comparison (p < 0.05). Both groups decreased sedentary time, overall and in bouts ≥30 min, between baseline and twelve-month follow-up (p < 0.05). From baseline to twelve-month follow-up, MVPA (total min and bouts ≥10 min) declined more in the comparison group than the intervention group (p < 0.05). Conclusion: While increased physical activity and decreased sedentary time were observed in both groups during the intervention period, maintenance was only observed for LPA at six-month follow-up in the intervention group. By twelve-month follow-up, post-intervention improvements had largely disappeared, suggesting that additional research is needed to identify ways to improve long-term adherence.


Funding for this study was provided from the National Heart Foundation and SA Health, Government of South Australia, awarded to Associate Professor Dollman through the South Australian Cardiovascular Research Development Fellowship program. Mr Mitchell is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. Dr Smith is a National Health and Medical Research Council & Australian Research Council (NHMRC-ARC) Dementia Research Development Fellow (APP 1097397). Dr Rowlands is with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Diet, Lifestyle & Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit based at University Hospitals of Leicester and Loughborough University, the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for leadership in Applied Health Research and Care – East Midlands (NIHR CLAHRC – EM) and the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit.



Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2019, 22(1), pp. 70-75

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES/School of Medicine/Diabetes Research Centre


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Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport


Elsevier for Sports Medicine Australia (SMA), Australasian Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), Australasian College of Sports Physicians (ACSP), Australian Physiotherapy Association - Sports Physiotherapy Australia (SPA), College of Sport P





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