Are Exercise Interventions Effective in Rural and Urban Communities?

HealthDay News — Interventions to promote physical activity among adults have no effect in rural communities, according to a review published online in Obesity Reviews.

Verity Cleland, PhD, from the University of Tasmania in Australia, and colleagues reviewed published evidence of the effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity and/or decrease sedentary behavior among rural adults. Data from 13 studies (4848 participants) were included in the qualitative synthesis and data from 12 studies (4820 participants) were included in the meta-analysis.

All studies included interventions to increase physical activity. The researchers found that there was no effect on physical activity (standardized mean difference [SMD]: 0.11; 95% CI, -0.04 to 0.25) or sedentary behavior (SMD: 0.07; 95% CI, -0.33 to 0.20) overall. Effects were seen in favor of the intervention in physical activity subgroup analysis for studies employing objective outcome measures (SMD: 0.65; 95% CI, 0.30-1.00), while there were no effects in favor in studies using self-reported measures (SMD: 0.00; 95% CI, -0.11 to 0.10).

“This review highlights significant gaps in our understanding of how best to promote physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviors among rural adults,” the authors write. “The absence of interventions to decrease sedentary behaviors is of concern, with immediate action required to address this large knowledge gap.”

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Cleland V, Squibb K, Stephens L, et al. Effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity and/or decrease sedentary behaviour among rural adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis [published online April 11, 2017]. Obes Rev. doi: 10.1111/obr.12533