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Open Access Study protocol

Testing the activitystat hypothesis: a randomised controlled trial protocol

Sjaan Gomersall1*, Carol Maher1, Kevin Norton2, Jim Dollman2, Grant Tomkinson1, Adrian Esterman3, Coralie English4, Nicole Lewis2 and Tim Olds1

Author affiliations

1 Health and Use of Time (HUT) Group, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

2 Exercise for Health and Human Performance Group, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

3 School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide South, Australia, Australia

4 International Centre for Allied Health Evidence (iCAHE), School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:851  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-851

Published: 8 October 2012

Abstract

Background

The activitystat hypothesis proposes that when physical activity or energy expenditure is increased or decreased in one domain, there will be a compensatory change in another domain to maintain an overall, stable level of physical activity or energy expenditure. To date, there has been no experimental study primarily designed to test the activitystat hypothesis in adults. The aim of this trial is to determine the effect of two different imposed exercise loads on total daily energy expenditure and physical activity levels.

Methods

This study will be a randomised, multi-arm, parallel controlled trial. Insufficiently active adults (as determined by the Active Australia survey) aged 18–60 years old will be recruited for this study (n=146). Participants must also satisfy the Sports Medicine Australia Pre-Exercise Screening System and must weigh less than 150 kg. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three groups using a computer-generated allocation sequence. Participants in the Moderate exercise group will receive an additional 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week for six weeks, and those in the Extensive exercise group will receive an additional 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week for six weeks. Exercise targets will be accumulated through both group and individual exercise sessions monitored by heart rate telemetry. Control participants will not be given any instructions regarding lifestyle. The primary outcome measures are activity energy expenditure (doubly labeled water) and physical activity (accelerometry). Secondary measures will include resting metabolic rate via indirect calorimetry, use of time, maximal oxygen consumption and several anthropometric and physiological measures. Outcome measures will be conducted at baseline (zero weeks), mid- and end-intervention (three and six weeks) with three (12 weeks) and six month (24 week) follow-up. All assessors will be blinded to group allocation.

Discussion

This protocol has been specifically designed to test the activitystat hypothesis while taking into account the key conceptual and methodological considerations of testing a biologically regulated homeostatic feedback loop. Results of this study will be an important addition to the growing literature and debate concerning the possible existence of an activitystat.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000248066

Keywords:
Protocol; Randomised controlled trial; Physical activity; Activitystat