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Nikita Rowley, James Steele, Steve Mann, Alfonso Jimenez, and Elizabeth Horton

Background: Exercise referral schemes in England offer referred participants an opportunity to take part in an exercise prescription in a nonclinical environment. The aim of these schemes is to effect clinical health benefits, yet there is limited evidence of schemes’ effectiveness, which could be due to the heterogeneity in design, implementation, and evaluation. Additionally, there has been no concerted effort to map program characteristics. Objective: To understand what key delivery approaches are currently used within exercise referral schemes in England. Methods: Across England, a total of 30 schemes with a combined total of 85,259 exercise referral scheme participants completed a Consensus on Exercise Reporting Template-guided questionnaire. The questionnaire explored program delivery, nonexercise components, and program management. Results: Results found that program delivery varied, though many schemes were typically 12 weeks in length, offering participants 2 exercise sessions in a fitness gym or studio per week, using a combination of exercises. Adherence was typically measured through attendance, with nonexercise components and program management varying by scheme. Conclusion: This research provides a snapshot of current delivery approaches and supports the development of a large-scale mapping exercise to review further schemes across the whole of the United Kingdom in order to provide evidence of best practice and delivery approaches nationwide.

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Nadja Willinger, James Steele, Lou Atkinson, Gary Liguori, Alfonso Jimenez, Steve Mann, and Elizabeth Horton

Background: Structured physical activity (PA) interventions (ie, intentionally planned) can be implemented in a variety of facilities, and therefore can reach a large proportion of the population. The aim of the authors was to summarize the effectiveness of structured interventions upon PA outcomes, in addition to proportions of individuals adopting and maintaining PA, and adherence and retention rates. Methods: Systematic review with narrative synthesis and exploratory meta-analyses. Twelve studies were included. Results: Effectiveness on PA levels during adoption (pre- to first time point) showed a trivial standardized effect (0.15 [−0.06 to 0.36]); during maintenance (any time point after the first and >6 mo since initiation) the standardized effect was also trivial with a wide interval estimate (0.19 [−0.68 to 1.07]). Few studies reported adoption (k = 3) or maintenance rates (k = 2). Retention at follow-up did not differ between structured PA or controls (75.1% [65.0%–83.0%] vs 75.4% [67.0%–82.3%]), nor did intervention adherence (63.0% [55.6%–69.6%] vs 77.8% [19.4%–98.1%]). Conclusion: Structured PA interventions lack evidence for effectiveness in improving PA levels. Furthermore, though retention is often reported and is similar between interventions and controls, adoption, maintenance, and adherence rates were rarely reported rendering difficulty in interpreting results of effectiveness of structured PA interventions.

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Emily Budzynski-Seymour, Rebecca Conway, Matthew Wade, Alex Lucas, Michelle Jones, Steve Mann, and James Steele

Background: Physical activity (PA) promotes health and well-being. For students, university represents a transitional period, including increased independence over lifestyle behaviors, in addition to new stressors and barriers to engaging in PA. It is, therefore, important to monitor PA trends in students to gain a greater understanding about the role it might play in physical and mental well-being, as well as other factors, such as attainment and employability. Methods: Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 2016 in Scottish universities and colleges, and in 2017 in universities and colleges across the United Kingdom, and the data were pooled for the present study (N = 11,650). Cumulative ordinal logistic regression was used to model the association between PA levels and mental and personal well-being, social isolation, and perceptions of academic attainment and employability. Results: Only 51% of the respondents met the recommended levels of moderate to vigorous PA per week. There was a linear relationship between PA levels and all outcomes, with better scores in more active students. Conclusions: UK university students are insufficiently active compared with the general population of 16- to 24-year olds. Yet, students with higher PA report better outcomes for mental and personal well-being, social isolation, and perceptions of academic attainment and employability.

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Nikita Rowley, James Steele, Matthew Wade, Robert James Copeland, Steve Mann, Gary Liguori, Elizabeth Horton, and Alfonso Jimenez

Objectives: To examine if exercise referral schemes (ERSs) are associated with meaningful changes in physical activity in a large cohort of individuals throughout England, Scotland, and Wales from The National Referral Database. Methods: Data were obtained from 5246 participants from 12 different ERSs, lasting 6–12 weeks. The preexercise referral scheme and changes from the preexercise to the postexercise referral scheme in self-reported International Physical Activity Questionnaire scores were examined. A 2-stage individual patient data meta-analysis was used to generate the effect estimates. Results: For the pre-ERS metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes per week, the estimate (95% confidence interval [CI]) was 676 MET minutes per week (539 to 812). For the change in MET minutes per week, the estimate (95% CI) was an increase of 540 MET minutes per week (396 to 684). Changes in the total PA levels occurred as a result of increases in vigorous activity of 17 minutes (95% CI, 9 to 24), increases in moderate activity of 29 minutes (95% CI, 22 to 36), and reductions in sitting of −61 minutes (95% CI, −78 to −43), though little change in walking (−5 min; 95% CI, −14 to 5) was found. Conclusions: Most participants undergoing ERSs are already “moderately active.” Changes in PA behavior associated with participation are through increased moderate to vigorous PA and reduced sitting. However, this was insufficient to change the International Physical Activity Questionnaire category, and the participants were still “moderately active.”