Web-based interventions for physical activity offer several advantages over face-to-face, print-and telephone-based interventions and are scalable and potentially cost-effective. Recent reviews of web-based interventions in adults show that they have positive but small effects on physical activity but identify a number of limitations including a reliance on self-report measures of outcome. This trial used an objective measure of physical activity to assess the effectiveness of three minimal contact interventions: 1) A multi-component web-based intervention incorporating objective monitoring and graphical feedback of physical activity; 2) A version of the first intervention that consisted only of objective monitoring plus web-based graphical feedback; and 3) Self-monitoring of physical activity using a paper diary.
Get Moving is an individually randomised controlled trial with allocation of 488 participants to one of three interventions or to a no-intervention control group. Participants are physically inactive working adults aged 18–65 years. They attended a baseline assessment session at which anthropometric, biological and questionnaire measures were taken and they completed a treadmill exercise test. They then wore a combined movement and heart rate monitor for six days and nights before being randomised to one of the four trial arms. The baseline measures were repeated at the follow-up assessment which took place approximately 12 weeks post-randomisation, conducted by staff blind to group allocation. Participants wore the movement and heart rate monitor for six days and nights before this. The co-primary outcomes are: physical activity energy expenditure measured using individually calibrated combined heart-rate and movement data; and cardiorespiratory fitness measured using a sub-maximal treadmill exercise test.
Strengths of the trial include the use of an objective measure of physical activity, a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness, relatively large sample size and the use of robust methods of randomisation, allocation concealment and blinding to outcome assessment. Get Moving will contribute to the evidence base on minimal contact interventions for increasing physical activity. The interventions could be implemented in other settings such as primary care.
ISRCTN31844443. Registered 18 June 2010.