Characteristics of effective Internet-mediated interventions to change lifestyle in people aged 50 and older: a systematic review.
OBJECTIVE To evaluate the use of a local neighborhood environment-focused physical activity website and its effects on walking and overall physical activity in middle-aged adults. METHOD One-hundred and six (72% women) inactive adults aged 52+/-4.6 years were randomly allocated to receive access to a neighborhood environment-focused website, (Neighborhood group, n=52) or a motivational-information website (Comparison group n=54). Participants also received eleven emails over the 26 weeks. Study outcomes were objectively-monitored website use, and self-reported total walking (min/wk), total physical activity (min/wk) and neighborhood walking (min/wk) collected at baseline, 12 and 26 weeks. The study was conducted between August 2005 and February 2006 in Brisbane, Australia. RESULTS Website use was significantly greater among Neighborhood participants (p=0.01). Statistically significant increases in walking and total physical activity were observed in both groups. There was also a statistically significant interaction effect for total physical activity, with Neighborhood group participants maintaining more of their initial increase in physical activity at week-26 (p<0.05). Further, those in the Neighborhood group who used the website more often reported significantly more walking along the community trail at week-26 (p=0.05) compared with those who did not. CONCLUSIONS A local neighborhood-environment focused physical activity website was more effective at engaging participants than a motivational-information website. Moreover, its use resulted in meaningful increases in physical activity relative to the comparison website.