An Evidence-Based Walking Program to Increase Physical Activity and Healthy Outcomes for Employees

Monday, 30 October 2017

Valerie Dietrich Greaves, DNP
Washtenaw Community College, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI, USA


Inactivity is on the rise in America with many individuals' having sedentary jobs that require long days of sitting behind a desk or a computer station. This increase in sedentary lifestyle has had a detrimental impact on the population's health as well as health care costs for our nation. Physical inactivity was ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the fourth leading cause of premature mortality globally, ahead of obesity and dietary factors (World Health Organization, 2016). It is also well documented that inactivity leads to many illnesses and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular realted incidents. Recent studies have shown that seventy million Americans or the equivalent of 20% of the United States (U.S.) population is inactive (Park et al., 2014). This evidence-based eight-week employee walking program was implemented in a community college setting to encourage a more active lifestyle and to have a positive impact on health measurements related to weight, BMI, cholesterol and increased physical activity level as measured by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ-SF).

This evidence-based walking program is based on several relatively short, eight to ten week, walking programs that have demonstrated health outcome-based improvements from pre to post program intervention (Fanous et al., 2014). The evidence-base interventions utilized in this walking program consist of the use of pedometers (Rongen et al., 2014) weekly goal setting, weekly check-ins with a healthcare provider (Leininger et al., 2013), a caring environment (Watson, 2007) and the use of walking groups and peer support (Fanous et al., 2014). The weekly check-in is a time for the participant to meet one on one with the nurse to set their weekly goals, document progress towards their weekly goals, and to discuss any issues or barriers they may be experiencing in keeping them from achieving their weekly step goals. Walking programs typically have a high attrition rate so multiple evidence-based interventions were utilized in this program to encourage and motivate participants to continue in the walking program.