Effect Of Exercise Consultation To Increase And Maintain Physical Activity

Several randomised controlled trials have found the exercise consultation to be effective in promoting and maintaining physical activity in non-clinical and clinical populations (Loughlan and Mutrie, 1997; Lowther, et al., 2002; Hughes, et al., 2002, 2003, Kirk, et al, 2004a, 2004b). Lowther, et al. (2002) compared the effect of fitness assessment, exercise consultation and standard exercise information on physical activity levels in a group of sedentary healthy individuals. Lowther, et al. (2002) found that participants who had received an exercise consultation were significantly more active at 12 months. A recent study of sedentary people with type II diabetes found that the exercise consultation was more effective than standard exercise information in promoting and maintaining physical activity for 12 months (Kirk, et al., 2004b).

Current research provides support for the exercise consultation in CR settings (Hughes, et al., 2002; 2003). A pilot study found that the exercise consultation improved short-term (four weeks) adherence to physical activity after completion of a phase III supervised exercise programme (Hughes, et al., 2003). A recent randomised controlled trial compared the longer-term effect of the exercise consultation with standard exercise information on maintenance of physical activity in 70 cardiac patients who had completed an 11-week phase III supervised exercise programme (Hughes, et al., 2003). Physical activity was assessed using a questionnaire, stage of change for exercise behaviour and accelerometry at baseline (immediately after programme completion), at six and 12 months follow-up. At baseline, both groups were regularly physically active (determined by questionnaire and stage of change), as patients had recently completed an exercise programme. Participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity, measured by questionnaire and accelerometry, was maintained in the experimental group over the 12-month study period. In contrast, self-reported physical activity significantly decreased in the control group from baseline to six and 12 months and total accelerom-etry counts per week decreased by 8% from baseline to 12 months. Furthermore, a higher proportion of experimental patients was regularly physically active (i.e. in the action and maintenance stages of change) at 12 months, compared to controls. These findings suggest that the exercise consultation successfully maintained physical activity for 12 months after completion of a phase III exercise programme.

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