Behavior change, exercise, habit, nurse practitioner, physical activity



  1. Davis, Jean W. PhD, DNP, EdD, FNP-BC, PHCNS-BC (Assistant Professor)


Background: Only about half of adults in the United States meet the minimum federal guidelines for physical activity (PA), with less than one quarter getting an optimal amount of weekly activity. Programs to increase PA can improve health and increase worker productivity.


Local problem: Clinic patients of a nurse practitioner-run employee health clinic in a self-insured health care system experienced health conditions associated with insufficient PA and wanted to form habits of adequate PA for health promotion.


Methods: A quantitative design was used to assess pre- and postintervention measures in this quality improve project.


Interventions: Patients of the clinic enrolled in a technology-based 3-month PA habit development program that included wearable technology, tracked step counts, daily text messaging, and weekly electronic newsletters. Biometric and habit measures were taken at baseline and at the conclusion of the 3-month program to determine effectiveness.


Results: Participants who completed the program developed strong habits of PA, on average. Small improvements in blood pressure, weight, and body mass index occurred but were not clinically significant. Two thirds of participants dropped out, which was fewer than anticipated based on prior reports.


Conclusions: Habits make an activity less difficult to continue than to stop. Thus, PA habits developed through this innovative intervention should persist and lead to decreased risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and dementia. The self-insured employer should reap the benefits of employee's PA through increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and lower health care costs.