Debate exists about the potential public health benefits of mass community events that encourage participation in physical activity. There have been few previous attempts to investigate their impact on the behaviour of participants, and the rates of relapse following the event. The aim of the research in this thesis was (i) to describe participants in three women-only mass participation events in Ireland (N = 82,955), (ii) to identify relapsers who regressed from sufficiently to insufficiently active in the months following the event, and (iii) to recruit these individuals to trials to re-initiate participation in physical activity. International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) physical activity self report data were collected before and after the events and relapse (n=852) was defined as decreasing participation by at least 60 minutes and regressing from the high or moderate IPAQ category to low active. Subsequently, in 2007, 176 women participated in a minimal contact randomised controlled trial (RCT) while in 2008, 395 women were recruited to a cluster RCT, which promoted existing resources for physical activity in the community. The majority of women participated for altruistic reasons and to have fun. Thus, the events motivated more than the „habitual exerciser‟ to participate. Approximately 11% of participants were classified as relapsers and any contact appeared sufficient to re-stimulate physical activity. In both trials, all participants reported significant increases in physical activity, with no between group difference. In the cluster RCT, intervention participants reported a significant increase in vigorous intensity activity. Aspects of the latter have been adopted by agencies tasked with promoting physical activity in Ireland. Mass events could be used as an initial prompt for physical activity even among sedentary women. Providing reinforcement strategies after events that utilise existing opportunities for physical activity and that adopt a “non fitness” approach, could contribute to public health physical activity promotion efforts.
|Unpublished - 2010
- Physical activity