The Use of Text Messaging to Promote Physical Activity in Working Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health

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Nancy M. Gell
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Danielle D. Wadsworth
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The study evaluated the effects of a text message intervention on physical activity in adult working women.


Eightyseven participants were randomized to an intervention (n = 41) or control group (n = 46). Pedometer step counts and measures of self-efficacy were collected at baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks. Intervention participants received approximately 3 text messages per week that were motivational, informational, and specific to performing physical activity.


ANCOVA results showed a significant difference between groups for mean steps per day at 12 weeks (6540.0 vs. 5685.0, P = .01) and no significant difference at 24 weeks (6867.7 vs. 6189.0, P = .06). There was no change in mean step counts during or after the intervention compared with baseline. There was a significant difference between groups for mean self-efficacy scores at 12 weeks (68.5 vs. 60.3, P = .02) and at 24 weeks (67.3 vs. 59.0, P = .03).


Intervention participants had higher step counts after 12 and 24 weeks compared with a control group; however, the difference was significant only at the midpoint of the intervention and was attributable to a decrease in steps for the control group. Text messaging did not increase step counts but may be a cost-effective tool for maintenance of physical activity behavior.

Gell ( is with the Dept of Rehabilitation and Movement Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT. Wadsworth is with the School of Kinesiology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

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