Effectiveness of individual counselling and activity monitors to promote physical activity among university students
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BACKGROUND: Physical activity promotion among university students is important to contribute to a lifelong healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, research in the field is still limited in quantity, quality and generalizability. This study aimed at testing the effectiveness of two strategies for promoting physical activity among university students. METHOD: Thirty-three students were recruited and randomly assigned to three groups. The first group attended individual counselling sessions via videoconferencing calls, the second used wearable physical activity monitors and the third served as control. Interventions lasted 12 weeks. Measures of physical activity (self-reported and recorded by ActiGraph-GT3X+ monitors) and the stages of change of participants were collected at baseline (t0), immediately after the 12-week intervention (t1), and after a 3-month follow-up (t2). RESULTS: Analyses revealed that students in the individual counselling group increased self-reported energy expenditure between t0 and t1 and maintained this improvement at t2; progression through stages of changes was observed in the same group at t1, followed by some relapses at t2. No significant differences were found neither in the group of students who used the physical activity monitors nor in the control group. CONCLUSIONS: Individual counselling program was effective for promoting physical activity among university students, whereas the autonomous use of physical activity monitors had no effects. However, the low participation rate in the study suggests to consider carefully the difficulties in motivating this population and in finding low time-consuming strategies to incentive participation.
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