PROVIDING SEDENTARY ADULTS WITH CHOICES FOR MEETING THEIR WALKING GOALS
Abstract Background. This study was designed to test different ways of meeting the new ACSM/CDC recommendations for physical activity stating that all Americans at least 2 years of age should obtain 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week. Methods. Thirty-two sedentary 18- to 55-year-old adults were randomly assigned to three groups of brisk walking/6 days per week: 30 continuous minutes, three 10-minute bouts, and 30 minutes in any combination of bouts as long as each bout was at least 5 minutes. Aerobic fitness, blood pressure, body composition, and physical activity were assessed at baseline, at end of program (16 weeks), and at follow-up (32 weeks). Results. All groups significantly ( P ≤ 0.05) improved their aerobic fitness and systolic blood pressure and increased their physical activity at the end of the program. At follow-up all groups maintained these changes, while additionally reducing their percentage body fat and diastolic blood pressure. Conclusion. These findings demonstrate that a walking prescription of 30 minutes per day on most days of the week with the choice to walk in as little as 5 minute bouts can improve cardiovascular health and body composition, as well as help sedentary people maintain those improvements over time. This is supported by all participants indicating that “making walking part of my lifestyle” was the most important factor in maintaining their walking habits.