A Weekly Structured Physical Activity Program Enhances Short-term Retention Of Middle-aged Adult Fitness Centre Users

Jorge Lopez-Fernandez, Brett Staniland, Isabel Sanchez, Tamara Iturriaga, Maria Ayuso, Elizabeth Horton, Steven Mann, Gary Liguori, Lou Atkinson, Alfonso Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Fitness centres can play a key role in addressing physical inactivity, yet several studies reveal low retention rate in fitness centres. Few centres, however, use a structured approach by providing a weekly physical activity (PA) program meeting ACSM guidelines. PURPOSE: To assess attendance and retention rates in inactive middle-aged adults of a fitness centre between a traditional PA plan and a structured PA program meeting ACSM guidelines. METHODOLOGY: Eighty inactive middle-aged adults (44.32 ± 6.99 years; 77.89 ± 19.22 kg; 158.75 ± 36.08 cm) from a Spanish fitness centre voluntarily enrolled in this study. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups (Free Exercise [FE = 40]; Structured Program [SP = 40]) and proved to be inactive through IPAQ short version. Participants completed baseline measures including body composition, VO2 max, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, flexibility, and muscular strength. During the ensuing 12 weeks, weekly attendance of both the FE and SP groups were tracked, with both groups initially agreeing to exercise 2-3 days per week for at least 20 sessions. FE group was introduced to trainers of the fitness centre and informed of group exercise sessions available. SP group received a structured program based on ACSM guidelines for PA. RESULTS: No baseline differences (p>0.05) existed between groups for age, body composition, VO2 max, haematocrit, flexibility, and muscular strength. A total of 13 participants (16%) never attend the initial assessment, and only 20 members (25%) attended 20 days or more (FE=5 [12.5%]; SP=15 [37.5%]). Members of SP group attended more total days (15.73 ± 8.19) than FE group (7.79 ± 8.62) during the 12 weeks (+7.93 days; p<0.001; ES = 0.945; IC: 3.83 – 12.04). CONCLUSION: Inactive adults receiving a structured PA program attended more days compared to those enjoying ‘free’ exercise, however, overall retention rate was still low for all participants. This pilot data shows the potential benefit of fitness centres providing structured daily programs to enhance retention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55
JournalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


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