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The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that individuals participate in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, as part of the prevention of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and several cancers. Nearly one third of adults, however, fail to meet these recommendations. Sedentary behaviour has been found to be associated with all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality, independent of physical activity. In this multinational randomized controlled trial, 1,113 men age 30 to 65 years with a body mass index (BMI) ³27 were randomized to participate in a 12-week, group-based program (EuroFIT) or a 12-month waiting list comparison group to evaluate the effectiveness of such an intervention in increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary time over a 12-month period. Coaches in football club stadia delivered the intervention program in 12 weekly 90-minute sessions. Uniquely, EuroFIT uses the allegiance many fans have to their football club to attract at-risk men to a group-based lifestyle change programme delivered in their clubs. Researchers found that the individuals in the intervention group had a higher mean daily step count at 12 months compared to the control group (estimated difference 678 steps/day, 97.5% CI 309 to 1048, p<0.001). There was no evidence of a difference in sedentary time (p=0.77). Interestingly after the completion of the program, larger between-group differences in step counts were observed (estimated difference 1208 steps/day, 97.5% CI 869 to 1546). This was in addition to significant decreases in sedentary time (estimated difference -14.4 minutes/day, 95% CI -25.1 to -3.8). Mean body weight, BMI, waist circumference and the proportion of participants with BMI ³30 all improved significantly in the intervention group when compared to the control group (p<0.001 for all). Improvements in cardiovascular risk biomarkers was also seen at 12 months, including improvements in systolic (p=0.047) and diastolic blood pressure (p=0.004), fasting insulin (p<0.001), fasting triglycerides (p=0.006), ALT (p=0.004) and GGT (p=0.003) concentrations. This study therefore shows that participation in the EuroFIT program led to improvements in physical activity, body weight and biomarkers of cardiometabolic health, but not in sedentary time at 12 months.

Click to read the study in PLOS Medicine

Image: PD

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