International Journal of Exercise Science 15(7): 1395-1417, 2022. Physical activity levels are low in individuals with chronic disease (e.g., obesity) and have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Purpose: Our pilot study tested a virtual exercise intervention for rural-dwelling adults with chronic disease from January-April 2021 for changes in mental health, physical fitness, and physical activity and for intervention fidelity. Methods: Participants (n = 8 [7 female]; age = 57.5 ± 13.8 years, body mass index = 38.2 ± 8.0 kg/m2) completed an exercise intervention led virtually by collegiate health science majors. Participants attended two 60-minute sessions/week for 12 weeks, completing individually-tailored and progressed aerobic and muscle-strengthening training. A non-randomized control group matched on gender and age continued normal activity during the 12 weeks. Changes in mental health, physical fitness, and physical activity measures were evaluated using a 2x2 (group x time) analysis of covariance. Results: Both groups improved mental health, but only intervention participants lost weight (3.1 ± 1.0 kg; no change in controls). Step test, arm curls, and chair stands improved by 16.1-20.6% in the intervention and 7.8-12.1% in the control groups. Intervention participants did not increase overall physical activity during or after the intervention. Intervention fidelity was high; participants attended ~73% of sessions and rated the sessions 4.7 ± 0.6 (out of 5). Researcher observations rated exercise sessions as meeting 12.7 ± 0.6 of 16 goals. Conclusions: Our virtual exercise program was associated with positive mental health and physical fitness changes. Such programs may provide a method, even beyond the pandemic, to improve fitness in adults with chronic disease.
Montoye, Alexander H.K.; Rajewski, Makenzie J.; Marshall, Drew A.; Neph, Sylvia E.; and Pfeiffer, Karin A.
"A Pilot, Virtual Exercise Intervention Improves Health and Fitness during the COVID-19 Pandemic,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 15
7, Pages 1395 - 1417.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol15/iss7/9