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16-04-2012 | Cardiology | Article

Internet-based tool increases physical activity in women


Free abstract

MedWire News: Use of an internet-based tool could improve physical activity levels in women and in turn prevent the progression of heart disease, say experts.

"Increased physical activity is associated with improvement of cardiac risk factors and prevention of cardiovascular disease, yet many women remain sedentary," write Samia Mora (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and co-authors.

Due to the rise in internet use, they investigated whether an internet-based intervention could improve physical activity levels in 3796 women aged at least 18 years.

The women used a 12-week internet-based program and completed surveys within the first week of enrollment and 12 weeks later. The surveys included questions on demographics, anthropometrics, physical activity behavior, and assessed quality of life using the modified Short Form-36 questionnaire with subscores for energy and wellbeing.

The web-based program encouraged participants to make incremental changes in physical activity levels and healthy eating behaviors during the 12-week intervention period. Each of the 12 modules contained motivational strategies and interactive elements including self-assessment questionnaires and progress logs.

The women were encouraged to participate in 30 minutes of physical activity (such as walking, hiking, running, or bicycling) each day by week 8 in accordance with US guidelines.

Mora and team estimated the energy expended on each activity and calculated the sum to give the total energy expended on physical activity in kilocalories per week.

Participants showed a significant increase in physical activity from a median of 240 kcal expended per week at baseline to 343 kcal per week at 12 weeks.

The average body mass index also improved significantly from 29.3 kg/m2 at baseline to 28.9 kg/m2 at 12 weeks.

According to the Short Form-36 questionnaire, energy and wellbeing increased significantly during the intervention period (p<0.0001).

The proportion of women who met American Heart Association guidelines for physical activity (≥1000 kcal/week) increased significantly from 15.8% at baseline to 21.4% at 12 weeks.

"This simple web-based tool resulted in moderate short-term behavioral change and may be a useful adjunct for promoting chronic disease prevention in women," the authors conclude in the American Journal of Cardiology.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Piriya Mahendra

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