JOURNAL ARTICLE

Physical activity levels in adults and older adults 3-4 years after pedometer-based walking interventions: Long-term follow-up of participants from two randomised controlled trials in UK primary care

Tess Harris, Sally M Kerry, Elizabeth S Limb, Cheryl Furness, Charlotte Wahlich, Christina R Victor, Steve Iliffe, Peter H Whincup, Michael Ussher, Ulf Ekelund, Julia Fox-Rushby, Judith Ibison, Stephen DeWilde, Cathy McKay, Derek G Cook
PLoS Medicine 2018, 15 (3): e1002526
29522529

BACKGROUND: Physical inactivity is an important cause of noncommunicable diseases. Interventions can increase short-term physical activity (PA), but health benefits require maintenance. Few interventions have evaluated PA objectively beyond 12 months. We followed up two pedometer interventions with positive 12-month effects to examine objective PA levels at 3-4 years.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: Long-term follow-up of two completed trials: Pedometer And Consultation Evaluation-UP (PACE-UP) 3-arm (postal, nurse support, control) at 3 years and Pedometer Accelerometer Consultation Evaluation-Lift (PACE-Lift) 2-arm (nurse support, control) at 4 years post-baseline. Randomly selected patients from 10 United Kingdom primary care practices were recruited (PACE-UP: 45-75 years, PACE-Lift: 60-75 years). Intervention arms received 12-week walking programmes (pedometer, handbooks, PA diaries) postally (PACE-UP) or with nurse support (PACE-UP, PACE-Lift). Main outcomes were changes in 7-day accelerometer average daily step counts and weekly time in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) in ≥10-minute bouts in intervention versus control groups, between baseline and 3 years (PACE-UP) and 4 years (PACE-Lift). PACE-UP 3-year follow-up was 67% (681/1,023) (mean age: 59, 64% female), and PACE-Lift 4-year follow-up was 76% (225/298) (mean age: 67, 53% female). PACE-UP 3-year intervention versus control comparisons were as follows: additional steps/day postal +627 (95% CI: 198-1,056), p = 0.004, nurse +670 (95% CI: 237-1,102), p = 0.002; total weekly MVPA in bouts (minutes/week) postal +28 (95% CI: 7-49), p = 0.009, nurse +24 (95% CI: 3-45), p = 0.03. PACE-Lift 4-year intervention versus control comparisons were: +407 (95% CI: -177-992), p = 0.17 steps/day, and +32 (95% CI: 5-60), p = 0.02 minutes/week MVPA in bouts. Neither trial showed sedentary or wear-time differences. Main study limitation was incomplete follow-up; however, results were robust to missing data sensitivity analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Intervention participants followed up from both trials demonstrated higher levels of objectively measured PA at 3-4 years than controls, similar to previously reported 12-month trial effects. Pedometer interventions, delivered by post or with nurse support, can help address the public health physical inactivity challenge.

TRIAL REGISTRATIONS: PACE-UP isrctn.com ISRCTN98538934; PACE-Lift isrctn.com ISRCTN42122561.

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