Research Study Abstract

Characteristics Of Walking Group Leaders Versus Members In A Community-based Study

  • Presented on May 29, 2014

Purpose: Little is known about the characteristics of individuals who volunteer to be walking group leaders. This study compared walking group leaders to members on sociodemographic, health, attitudinal, and behavioral variables.

Methods: Sumter County On The Move! (SCOTM!) is a community-based program that uses strategies for mobilizing, supporting, and reinforcing existing social networks to increase walking. Residents of Sumter County, SC interested in becoming walking group leaders were recruited to form groups of 4 to 8 members. Although those with medical contraindications to exercise were excluded, no exclusion criterion based on exercise level was used. At baseline, leaders and members completed a survey assessing sociodemographic, health, attitudinal, and behavioral variables and wore an ActiGraph accelerometer for one week. Leaders and members were compared using chi-square analyses for categorical variables and t-tests for continuous variables.

Results: The sample included 294 adults (85% women, 67% African American, 45% college or technical school graduate, 52% married, 75% employed). Walking group leaders (n=64) were similar to members (n=230) with respect to most sociodemographic characteristics (race, sex, education), and in self-rated health and body mass index, but were somewhat older (52.1 vs. 48.6 years, p=.06). Although leaders and members did not differ with respect to the proportion of time spent in sedentary behavior or moderate-to vigorous-intensity PA, leaders reported higher levels of self-regulation for goal setting (2.8 vs. 2.4, p=.003), greater exercise self-efficacy (4.6 vs. 4.0, p=.003), and greater exercise social support (2.7 vs. 2.4, p = .004) than members. Walking group leaders also reported greater use of outdoor trails (5.5 vs. 3.9 days, p=.06) and other outdoor recreation areas (5.0 vs. 3.1 days, p=.02) for PA in a typical month than did members.

Conclusions: Although individuals who enrolled as walking group leaders were no more active than those recruited as members and did not differ appreciably by sociodemographic characteristics or health status, leaders did appear to be more ready for change. The study will examine how leader characteristics relate to member changes in PA over time.

Supported by grant U48/DP001936 from the CDC

Presented at

ACSM 2014 Annual Meeting