Community-wide promotion of physical activity in middle-aged and older Japanese: a 3-year evaluation of a cluster randomized trial

Promotion of physical activity (PA) is a key strategy to prevent non-communicable diseases. However, evidence on the effectiveness of community-wide interventions (CWIs) for promoting PA is limited.PurposeTo evaluate the effectiveness of a 3-year CWI for promoting PA in middle-aged and older adults compared with usual public health services. This study is an extension to an original 1-year investigation study.DesignCluster randomized controlled trial with community as unit of randomization and individual as unit of analysis.Setting/participants12 communities in Unnan, Japan were randomly allocated to the intervention (9) or the control (3). Additionally intervention communities were randomly allocated to aerobic activity promotion (Group A), flexibility and muscle-strengthening activities promotion (Group FM), or aerobic, flexibility, and muscle-strengthening activities promotion (Group AFM), each consisting of three communities. Randomly-sampled 4414 residents aged 40 to 79 years responded to the baseline survey (74 %), and were analyzed in 2013–2014.InterventionA 3-year CWI based on social marketing, to promote PA from 2009 to 2012.Main outcome measuresThe primary outcome was a change in regular aerobic, flexibility, and/or muscle-strengthening activities, defined by (1) engaging in 150 mins/week or more of walking, (2) engaging in daily flexibility activity, or (3) engaging 2 or more days/week in muscle-strengthening activities, evaluated at the individual level. Secondary outcomes were changes in specific types of PA and musculoskeletal pain. Outcomes were measured at baseline and at 1 and 3 years (2009, 2010, and 2012).
The CWI did not significantly increase the proportion of adults who reached recommended levels of aerobic, flexibility, and/or muscle-strengthening activities (adjusted change difference = 1.6 % [95 % CI: −3.5, 6.6]). In the subgroup analysis, compared to the controls, adults doing flexibility activity daily significantly increased in Group FM (6.3 % [95 % CI: 1.9, 10.7]). In Group A and AFM for PA outcomes and in all groups for pain outcomes, there was no significant change compared to controls.
The CWI did not achieve significant increase in the proportion of adults who reached recommended PA levels. However, it might be effective in promoting flexibility activity in middle-aged and older Japanese.Trial registrationUMIN-CTR UMIN000002683.

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