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Open Access Study protocol

"Step by Step". A feasibility study of a lunchtime walking intervention designed to increase walking, improve mental well-being and work performance in sedentary employees: Rationale and study design

Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani1*, Elizabeth A Loughren1, Joan L Duda1, Kenneth R Fox2 and Florence-Emilie Kinnafick1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK

2 Department of Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, UK

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:578  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-578

Published: 27 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Following an extensive recruitment campaign, a 16-week lunchtime intervention to increase walking was implemented with insufficiently physically active University employees to examine programme feasibility and the effects of the programme in increasing walking behaviour, and in improving well-being and work performance.

Methods/design

A feasibility study in which participants were randomised to an immediate treatment or a delayed treatment control (to start at 10 weeks) group. For the first ten weeks of the intervention, participants took part in three facilitator-led group walks per week each of thirty minutes duration and were challenged to accumulate another sixty minutes of walking during the weekends. In the second phase of the intervention, the organised group walks ceased to be offered and participants were encouraged to self-organise their walks. Motivational principles were employed using contemporary motivational theory. Outcome measures (including self-reported walking, step counts, cardiovascular fitness, general and work-related well-being and work performance) were assessed at baseline, at the end of the 16-week intervention and (for some) four months after the end of the intervention. Process and outcome assessments were also taken throughout, and following, the intervention.

Discussion

The results of the intervention will determine the feasibility of implementing a lunchtime walking programme to increase walking behaviour, well-being and performance in sedentary employees. If successful, there is scope to implement definitive trials across a range of worksites with the aim of improving both employee and organisational health.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN81504663.