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Ruth Miller and Wendy Brown

Purpose:

The aims of this study were to investigate the relationships and agreement between average number of steps taken per day and compliance with Australian physical activity guidelines in a sample of working Australian adults.

Methods:

One hundred-eighty-five adults wore a pedometer and recorded the number of steps taken each day for 7 d. On the 8th day, they completed a self-report survey that asked about frequency and duration of different activities during the previous week.

Results:

The average number of steps per day was 8543 (standard deviation = 2466) for men (n = 74) and 9093 (2926) for women (n = 111; no significant difference). Just over half the men (53%) and 45% of the women met the current national physical activity guidelines (no significant difference). Average number of steps per day was higher in those who met the guidelines [9547 (2655), n = 89] than in those who did not [8220 (2702), n = 96; P < 0.0001]. In general, the level of agreement between the 2 measures was only moderate. There was, however, better agreement between the 2 measures in women (Spearman’s ρ = 0.35; % agreement 67.5%; κ = 0.33, P < 0.0001) than in men (ρ = 0.21; % agreement 52.7%; κ = 0.08, NS).

Conclusions:

This study provides an indication of average daily step counts among adults who do and do not meet physical activity guidelines and some evidence on which to base appropriate “step targets” that might be recommended for health benefits for adults.

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Wendy J. Brown and Toby Pavey

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) commenced in Australia in 1996 when researchers recruited approximately 40,000 women in three birth cohorts: 1973–1978, 1946–1951, and 1921–1926. Since then participants have completed surveys on a wide range of health issues, at approximately three-year intervals. This overview describes changes in physical activity (PA) over time in the mid-age and older ALSWH cohorts, and summarizes the findings of studies published to date on the determinants of PA, and its associated health outcomes in Australian women. The ALSWH data show a significant increase in PA during mid-age, and a rapid decline in activity levels when women are in their 80s. The study has demonstrated the importance of life stages and key life events as determinants of activity, the additional benefits of vigorous activity for mid-age women, and the health benefits of ‘only walking’ for older women. ALSWH researchers have also drawn attention to the benefits of activity in terms of a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes, as well as overall vitality and well-being. The data indicate that maintaining a high level of PA throughout mid and older age will not only reduce the risk of premature death, but also significantly extend the number of years of healthy life.

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Geeske Peeters, Wendy Brown and Nicola Burton

Background:

Patient-group specific preferences can be used to design physical activity programs. This study compared physical activity context preferences between (1) people with musculoskeletal conditions (ie, arthritis and/or osteoporosis) and people without these conditions, and (2) people with arthritis only and people with osteoporosis only.

Methods:

Data were from 1684 participants (57.2 ± 6.6 years) with self-reported arthritis and/or osteoporosis and 4550 participants (52.9 ± 6.9 years) without these conditions. Participants indicated the extent to which they disagreed/agreed with a preference for each of 14 contexts. Marginal means and 95% confidence intervals are presented, differences were tested with ANCOVA.

Results:

Compared with participants without musculoskeletal conditions, those with arthritis and/or osteoporosis indicated a slightly stronger preference for activities that are not just about exercise [3.55 (3.51–3.59) vs. 3.49 (3.46–3.52), P = .02], and a weaker preference for vigorous activities [3.02 (2.97–3.06) vs. 3.08 (3.06–3.11), P = .02], and activities with a set routine or format [3.29 (3.24–3.33) vs. 3.35 (3.32–3.38), P = .02]. Participants with arthritis only [n = 1063, 2.64, (2.59–2.70)] had a stronger preference against supervision than those with osteoporosis only [n = 146, 2.84 (2.69–2.99); P = .02].

Conclusions:

Only small differences were found in the activity context preferences between people with and without musculoskeletal conditions, and between people with osteoporosis and people with arthritis. The context of physical activity interventions for people with arthritis and/or osteoporosis does not have to be different from those for people without these conditions.

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Geeske Peeters, Richard Hockey and Wendy Brown

Purpose:

This study was designed to compare theoretical strategies for changing physical activity (PA) in terms of their potential to reduce the incidence of chronic conditions in midage women: (1) whole population: +30 minutes/week in all, (2) high-risk: +60 minutes/week in the lowest 25% of the PA distribution, and (3) middle road: shift all those not meeting guidelines to a level commensurate with meeting guidelines.

Methods:

10,854 participants (50–55 years in 2001) in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health completed mail surveys in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010. PA was calculated as MET·minutes/week spent in walking, moderate and vigorous PA in the previous week. Incidence rates per 1000 person-years for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and depression were calculated for the actual distribution and after modeled shifts in PA.

Results:

The incidence rates were 10.6 for diabetes, 7.0 for heart disease, 30.7 for hypertension, 8.0 for cancer, and 28.4 for depression. Greater reductions in incidence were found for the middle road strategy than for the whole population and high-risk strategies, with reductions ranging from –6.3% for cancer to –12.3% for diabetes.

Discussion:

This theoretical modeling showed that a middle road strategy to increasing PA was superior to the whole population and high-risk strategies, in terms of reducing incidence rates of chronic conditions in middle-aged women.

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Wendy J. Brown and Yvette D. Miller

Background:

National physical activity data suggest that there is a considerable difference in physical activity levels of US and Australian adults. Although different surveys (Active Australia and BRFSS) are used, the questions are similar. Different protocols, however, are used to estimate “activity” from the data collected. The primary aim of this study was to assess whether the 2 approaches to the management of PA data could explain some of the difference in prevalence estimates derived from the two national surveys.

Methods:

Secondary data analysis of the most recent AA survey (N = 2987).

Results:

15% of the sample was defined as “active” using Australian criteria but as “inactive” using the BRFSS protocol, even though weekly energy expenditure was commensurate with meeting current guidelines. Younger respondents (age < 45 y) were more likely to be “misclassified” using the BRFSS criteria.

Conclusions:

The prevalence of activity in Australia and the US appears to be more similar than we had previously thought.

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Ruth Miller, Wendy Brown and Catrine Tudor-Locke

Background:

The aims of this study were to describe the amount of non-ambulatory physical activity (PA) undertaken by a sample of Australian workers, and to evaluate different methods of accounting for non-ambulatory activities when using pedometers to measure physical activity.

Methods:

Adults age 18 to 64 y (N = 204) wore a pedometer and recorded steps and non-step activity in a logbook for 7 d. Non-ambulatory activity was recorded by 28% of the participants (N = 52) with cycling and swimming the most frequently reported.

Results:

The mean time reported for non-ambulatory activities was 82.8 (standard deviation 80.0) min/wk. On average, participants recorded 8873 (standard deviation 2757) steps/d. Time in non-ambulatory activities was converted to steps equivalents using three different conversion methods. Use of the three methods added 333 to 721 steps/d in the whole sample, but 1153 to 2566 steps/d for those who reported non-ambulatory activity.

Conclusions:

Suggestions are provided for accounting for non-ambulatory activities in interventions which rely on step count measures.

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Robert Eley, Robert Bush and Wendy Brown

Background:

Interventions addressing chronic disease through physical activity are hampered by the low evidence base from rural areas. The purpose of the study was to provide information which may contribute to the development of future policy and strategy applicable to rural Queensland.

Methods:

Six diverse rural shires were chosen. A mixed-method design included more than 100 interviews with community representatives; surveys to 3000 community members; audits of facilities, amenities, and other relevant resources in each shire; and detailed observation during repeated site visits.

Results:

Half the respondents failed to meet Australian physical activity guidelines and 1 in 5 reported no activity. Queensland’s rural communities offer good access to a wide variety of structured and nonstructured activities. Some barriers to physical activity (eg, family commitments) are similar to those reported from urban areas; however, others including climate, culture of exercise, and community leadership are unique to the rural environment.

Conclusions:

Unique characteristics of rural environments and populations affect engagement in physical activity. Promotion of healthy lifestyle in rural environments need to be informed by local context and not merely extrapolated from urban situations. Attention must be paid to specific local circumstances which may affect implementation, adoption and participation.

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Kristiann Corbusier Heesch, Norman Ng and Wendy Brown

Background:

Physical activity (PA) is recommended for managing osteoarthritis (OA). However, few people with OA are physically active. Understanding the factors associated with PA is necessary to increase PA in this population. This cross-sectional study examined factors associated with leisure-time PA, stretching exercises, and strengthening exercises in people with OA.

Methods:

For a mail survey, 485 individuals, aged 68.0 years (SD = 10.6) with hip or knee OA, were asked about factors that may influence PA participation, including use of non-PA OA management strategies and both psychological and physical health-related factors. Associations between factors and each PA outcome were examined in multivariable logistic regression models.

Results:

Non-PA management strategies were the main factors associated with the outcomes. Information/education courses, heat/cold treatments, and paracetamol were associated with stretching and strengthening exercises (P < .05). Hydrotherapy and magnet therapy were associated with leisure-time PA; using orthotics and massage therapy, with stretching exercises; and occupational therapy, with strengthening exercises (P < .05). Few psychological or health-related factors were associated with the outcomes.

Conclusions:

Some management strategies may make it easier for people with OA to be physically active, and could be promoted to encourage PA. Providers of strategies are potential avenues for recruiting people with OA into PA programs.

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Helen Elizabeth Brown, Nicola Burton, Nicholas David Gilson and Wendy Brown

Background:

An emerging area of interest in workplace health is presenteeism; the measurable extent to which physical or psychosocial symptoms, conditions and disease adversely affect the work productivity of those who choose to remain at work. Given established links between presenteeism and health, and health and physical activity, presenteeism could be an important outcome in workplace physical activity research. This study provides a narrative review of questionnaires for use in such research.

Methods:

Eight self-report measures of presenteeism were identified. Information regarding development, constructs measured and psychometric properties was extracted from relevant articles.

Results:

Questionnaires were largely self-administered, had 4–44 items, and recall periods ranging from 1 week to 1 year. Items were identified as assessing work performance, physical tolerance, psychological well-being and social or role functioning. Samples used to test questionnaires were predominantly American male employees, with an age range of 30–59 years. All instruments had undergone psychometric assessment, most commonly discriminant and construct validity.

Conclusion:

Based on instrument characteristics, the range of conceptual foci covered and acceptable measurement properties, the Health and Work Questionnaire, Work Ability Index, and Work Limitations Questionnaire are suggested as most suitable for further exploring the relationship between physical activity and presenteeism.

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Wendy J. Brown, Kerry Mummery, Elizabeth Eakin and Grant Schofield

Objectives:

To describe the effectiveness of a multi-strategy physical activity (PA) intervention.

Methods:

Self-report data from random samples were collected prior to and following intervention. Social marketing, healthcare provider, and environmental strategies were concurrently implemented with a central coordinating theme of “10,000 Steps Rockhampton.”

Results:

There was evidence of significant project reach and awareness. The downward trend in PA seen in the comparison community (48.3% to 41.9% “active”) was not evident in Rockhampton. Women were the “early adopters” in this project; with an increase of 5% (95% CI: –0.6, 10.6) in the percent categorized as “active” (compared with decreases among women in the comparison community and among men in both communities).

Conclusions:

High levels of project awareness, combined with modest increases in activity levels in women, demonstrate initial project effects. Longer term interventions, focusing on sustainable individual, social, and environmental change strategies are needed to maintain and improve this result.