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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2019 January;59(1):132-40

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07981-6


lingua: Inglese

Effectiveness of individual counseling and activity monitors to promote physical activity among university students

Marco MASELLI 1, Erica GOBBI 2, Attilio CARRARO 2

1 Department FISPPA, University of Padua, Padua, Italy; 2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) 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 evaluating the effectiveness of two individual-based strategies for promoting PA among university students in such university contexts where course-based interventions are difficult to implement.
METHODS: Thirty-three university students were recruited by means of face-to-face interviews and randomly assigned to three groups. The first group attended individual counselling sessions (based on the social cognitive theory and the transtheoretical model of behavior change) via videoconferencing calls, the second used wearable PA monitors designed to motivate to PA, and the third served as control. Interventions lasted 12 weeks. Measures of weekly PA (self-reported by questionnaires and recorded by ActiGraph-GT3X+ monitors) and the stage 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: Students in the individual counselling group increased self-reported energy expenditure between t0 and t1 and maintained this improvement at t2; on the contrary, there was no increase in ActiGraph measures of PA. 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 PA monitors nor in the control group.
CONCLUSIONS: Although measures of self-reported PA and stage of change suggest the effectiveness of the counselling intervention, the results obtained with accelerometers are contrasting, probably due to the fact that some types of PA participants engaged in could not be recorder by accelerometers. Further studies are needed to determine the efficacy of individual counselling to promote PA in university students. The autonomous use of PA monitors had no effects on PA behavior. The low participation rate in the study suggests considering carefully the difficulties in motivating this population and in finding low time-consuming strategies to incentive participation.

KEY WORDS: Physical activity - Health promotion - Young adult

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