Increasing Employees’ Health by Workplace Physical Activity Counseling: The Mediating Role of Step-Based Physical Activity Behavior Change

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: This study evaluated the effects of a 3-month workplace physical activity (PA) intervention on employees’ health-related fitness and well-being. Moreover, mediational pathways were examined. Methods: A longitudinal, quasi-experimental trial was evaluated in Belgian employees. The intervention group (IG: n = 246) received 3-months individualized, tailored PA counseling, consisting of face-to-face counseling and follow-up e-mail and telephone contacts. The reference group (n = 54) received no PA counseling. Outcome measures (assessed at baseline, 3 mo [short term], and 9 mo [long term]) included body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, well-being, and step-based PA. Results: With no changes in the reference group, the IG showed short-term improvements in body mass index (−0.24 kg/m2, P < .001), body fat (−0.88%, P < .001), waist circumference (−1.47 cm, P < .001), and muscle percentage (+0.47%, P < .001). Moreover, with respect to cardiorespiratory fitness, IG participants improved on perceived exertion, both in the short term (−0.91, P < .001) and long term (−0.83, P < .001). Furthermore, perceived physical well-being increased in the IG, both in the short term (+0.57, P < .001) and long term (+0.57, P < .001). The observed intervention effects on body composition, perceived exertion, and well-being were mediated by (increases in) step-based PA. Conclusions: Workplace PA counseling programs have the potential to enhance employees’ health-related fitness and well-being. Importantly, step-based PA behavior change was found to contribute to the postintervention improvements.

Arrogi, Schotte, Boen, and Seghers are with the Department of Movement Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. Bogaerts is with the Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Arrogi (anass.arrogi@kuleuven.be) is corresponding author.
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