Increased physical activity in abdominally obese women through support for changed commuting habits: a randomized clinical trial

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Abdominally obese women can reduce their health risk through regular physical activity. There is, however, little evidence on the effectiveness of interventions that promote physical activity long-term, such as cycling and walking to and from work.


This intervention focused on physically active commuting (cycling and walking) in middle-aged (30-60 years), abdominally obese (waist circumference ≥88 cm) women (n=120), recruited by newspaper advertisement. The intervention group was a moderate-intensity programme with physician meetings, physical activity prescriptions, group counselling and bicycles. The control group was a low-intensity group support programme with pedometers. We used a randomized, controlled, 2-armed design with 18 months duration and intention-to-treat analysis (data collection 2005-2006). Treatment success was defined as bicycling ≥2 km/d (primary) or walking 10 000 steps per day (secondary).


At baseline, mean (s.d.) age was 48.2 years (7.4), waist circumference 103.8 cm (7.8), walking 8471 steps per day (2646), bicycling 0 km per day. Attrition at 18 months was 10% for the intervention group and 25% in the control group (P=0.03). The intervention group was more likely to achieve treatment success for cycling than controls: 38.7 vs 8.9% (odds ratio (OR)=7.8 (95% confidence interval=4.0 to 15.0, P<0.001)), but with no difference for compliance with the walking recommendation: 45.7 vs 39.3% (OR=1.2 (95% CI=0.7 to 2.0, P=0.50)). Commuting by car and public transport were reduced by 34% (P<0.01) and 37% (P<0.001), respectively, with no differences between groups. Both groups attained similar waist reductions (−2.1 and −2.6 cm, P=0.72).


Abdominally obese women can increase PA long-term through moderate-intensity behavioural support aimed at changing commuting habits.


International Journal of Obesity (2009) 33, 645-652; doi:10.1038/ijo.2009.77; published online 5 May 2009

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