Objective: Physical inactivity in Saudi women is high, even among young women (60% of university students are physically inactive). We aimed to investigate the effect of a physical activity intervention on daily walking among female students at a Saudi university.
Methods: Two hundred and seven female students (mean age: 22.6 ± 1.3; body mass index: 24.6 ± 5.9) participated in a parallel-group randomized trial. The intervention group wore pedometers and received health-promotion messages for 12 weeks through WhatsApp®; the control group received a similar number of messages unrelated to health. Average daily steps and self-reported activity were assessed at baseline and after 3 months. Analysis followed an intention-to-treat approach. Group differences in average daily steps were assessed using a two (group) by 2 (time) ANOVA. F-tests for main effects and the interaction were evaluated; P < 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: There was a significant group-by-time interaction, that is, the intervention group had a significantly higher change in daily steps compared to the control group (+576 vs. −525; F = 4.33, P = 0.04). Self-reported daily activity was not significantly different by group.
Conclusions: The intervention was effective at improving the number of daily steps in young women. Future studies could test this intervention among other student groups.
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