It is important to determine if permanent lifestyle changes may result from physical activity interventions and whether health may be affected by these changes.
To conduct a 10-year follow-up of physical activity and self-reported health status in participants of a randomized clinical trial of walking intervention.
Of the original 229 volunteer postmenopausal women who participated in the original clinical trial, 196 (N=96 intervention and 100 controls) completed the 10-year follow-up telephone interview. The interview protocol included questions on self-reported walking for exercise and purposes other than exercise, the Paffenbarger sport and exercise index, functional status, and various chronic diseases and conditions.
The median values for both usual walking for exercise and total walking were significantly higher for walkers compared with controls (for both, P=.01), with median differences of 706 and 420 kcal/wk, respectively. After excluding women who reported heart disease during the original trial, 2 women in the walking group (2%) and 11 women in the control group (12%) reported physician-diagnosed heart disease over the last 10 years (P=.07). There were also fewer hospitalizations, surgeries, and falls among women in the walking group, although these differences were not statistically significant (P>.05).
Although limited by self-report, this study may be the first to demonstrate long-term exercise compliance to a randomized control trial in older women and to suggest that health benefits may have ensued as a result of these increased activity levels.