Open Access Study protocol

A family based tailored counselling to increase non-exercise physical activity in adults with a sedentary job and physical activity in their young children: design and methods of a year-long randomized controlled trial

Taija Finni1*, Arja Sääkslahti2, Arto Laukkanen1, Arto Pesola1 and Sarianna Sipilä3

Author Affiliations

1 Neuromuscular Research Center, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

2 Department of Physical Education, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

3 Gerontology Research Centre, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:944  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-944

Published: 20 December 2011



Epidemiological evidence suggests that decrease in sedentary behaviour is beneficial for health. This family based randomized controlled trial examines whether face-to-face delivered counselling is effective in reducing sedentary time and improving health in adults and increasing moderate-to-vigorous activities in children.


The families are randomized after balancing socioeconomic and environmental factors in the Jyväskylä region, Finland. Inclusion criteria are: healthy men and women with children 3-8 years old, and having an occupation where they self-reportedly sit more than 50% of their work time and children in all-day day-care in kindergarten or in the first grade in primary school. Exclusion criteria are: body mass index > 35 kg/m2, self-reported chronic, long-term diseases, families with pregnant mother at baseline and children with disorders delaying motor development.

From both adults and children accelerometer data is collected five times a year in one week periods. In addition, fasting blood samples for whole blood count and serum metabonomics, and diurnal heart rate variability for 3 days are assessed at baseline, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months follow-up from adults. Quadriceps and hamstring muscle activities providing detailed information on muscle inactivity will be used to realize the maximum potential effect of the intervention. Fundamental motor skills from children and body composition from adults will be measured at baseline, and at 6 and 12 months follow-up. Questionnaires of family-influence-model, health and physical activity, and dietary records are assessed. After the baseline measurements the intervention group will receive tailored counselling targeted to decrease sitting time by focusing on commute and work time. The counselling regarding leisure time is especially targeted to encourage toward family physical activities such as visiting playgrounds and non-built environments, where children can get diversified stimulation for play and practice fundamental of motor skills. The counselling will be reinforced during the first 6 months followed by a 6-month maintenance period.


If shown to be effective, this unique family based intervention to improve lifestyle behaviours in both adults and children can provide translational model for community use. This study can also provide knowledge whether the lifestyle changes are transformed into relevant biomarkers and self-reported health.

Trial registration number