Outcome evaluation of Active Herts: A community-based physical activity programme for inactive adults at risk of cardiovascular disease and low mental wellbeing

Angel M. Chater, Joerg Schulz, Andy Jones, Amanda Burke, Shelby Carr, Dora Kukucska, Nick Troop, Daksha Trivedi, Neil Howlett

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Background: A high proportion of UK adults are inactive, which can lead to a range of physical and mental health concerns. Active Herts is a community-based physical activity programme for inactive adults at risk of cardiovascular disease and/or low mental wellbeing. This paper provides a pragmatic evaluation of this programme.

Method: This longitudinal study observed 717 adults (68% female, mean age = 56.9 years) from the “Active Herts” programme. Programme users were provided with a 45-min consultation with a “Get Active Specialist,” who talked them through an Active Herts self-help booklet and then signposted them to free or subsidized local exercise sessions. Programme users were followed up with a booster call 2 weeks later. The Get Active Specialist was a registered exercise professional (REPS Level 3), with additional training from the study team in motivational interviewing, health coaching, COM-B behavioral diagnosis and delivery of behavior change techniques (BCTs) in practice. The Active Herts booklet contained theoretically-driven and evidence-based BCTs to translate behavioral science into public health practice. Physical activity (Metabolic Equivalent Time [METs], measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), perceived health (EQ-5D-5L) and mental wellbeing (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale: WEMWBS) were measured at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months.

Results: At the end of the 12-month programme, users showed sustained improvements in physical activity (by +1331 METS), exceeding weekly recommendations. Sitting (reducing by over an hour per day), sporting participation, and perceptions of health were also improved, with improvements in mental wellbeing in the first 3 months.

Conclusion: Designing and delivering a community-based physical activity programme that is theoretically-driven and evidence-based with frequent behavior change training and supervision can yield a significant increase in self-reported physical activity, reduction in sitting behavior and improvements to perceived health and mental wellbeing. Future research should extend this approach, utilizing a real-world, pragmatic evaluation.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier (NCT number): NCT03153098.
Original languageEnglish
Article number903109
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2022


  • behavior change intervention
  • cardiovascular risk
  • COM-B
  • exercise
  • inactivity
  • mental wellbeing
  • motivational interviewing
  • physical activity

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