Following recruitment of a private sector company, an 8week lunchtime walking intervention was implemented to examine the effect of the intervention on modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors, and further to see if walking environment had any further effect on the cardiovascular disease risk factors.
For phase 1 of the study participants were divided into three groups, two lunchtime walking intervention groups to walk around either an urban or natural environment twice a week during their lunch break over an 8week period. The third group was a waiting-list control who would be invited to join the walking groups after phase 1. In phase 2 all participants were encouraged to walk during their lunch break on self-selecting routes. Health checks were completed at baseline, end of phase 1 and end of phase 2 in order to measure the impact of the intervention on cardiovascular disease risk. The primary outcome variables of heart rate and heart rate variability were measured to assess autonomic function associated with cardiovascular disease. Secondary outcome variables (Body mass index, blood pressure, fitness, autonomic response to a stressor) related to cardiovascular disease were also measured. The efficacy of the intervention in increasing physical activity was objectively monitored throughout the 8-weeks using an accelerometer device.
The results of this study will help in developing interventions with low researcher input with high participant output that may be implemented in the workplace. If effective, this study will highlight the contribution that natural environments can make in the reduction of modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors within the workplace.
Keywords: Walking, Workplace, Physical activity, Cardiovascular disease, Heart rate variability, Nature