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The impact of a 6-week community-based physical activity and health education intervention—a pilot study among Irish farmers

Abstract

Background

There is a higher prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases among Irish farmers than the general adult population. Lifestyle interventions that increase physical activity and improve dietary patterns have been associated with reduced chronic disease risk and improved quality of life among high-risk populations. The impact of lifestyle interventions among Irish farmers is unknown.

Aim

To assess the effectiveness of a community-based intervention on farmer health, cardiovascular fitness, lower limb strength endurance, and dietary intake.

Methods

A 6-week physical activity and lifestyle education intervention involving two 60-min circuit-based exercise training sessions and one 60-min health education workshop per week was implemented. Pre- and post-measurements included total body weight, body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, resting blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, cardiovascular fitness, lower limb strength, perceived physical and mental health, and dietary intake.

Results

Thirty farmers completed the intervention giving an adherence rate of 75%. At baseline, mean BMI (32.7 ± 4.1 kg/m2), body fat percent (31.7 ± 6.7), waist circumference (110.2 ± 10.4 cm), systolic (128.7 ± 7.8 mmHg) and diastolic (86.2 ± 6.8 mmHg) blood pressure were higher than recommended levels. Significant improvements (p < 0.05) were found for total body weight, BMI, waist and hip circumferences, cardiovascular fitness, lower limb strength endurance, systolic blood pressure, total energy, total fat, total unsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, saturated fat, trans fat, total carbohydrate, sodium, cholesterol and percentage energy intakes of total fat, saturated fat, protein, and physical and mental health scores.

Conclusions

Irish farmers remain at high risk of developing chronic diseases but respond positively to lifestyle intervention.

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Funding

Ruth Kavanagh received an employment-based postgraduate scholarship from the Irish Research Council in partnership with True Fitness and the Institute of Technology Sligo (Project ID: EBPPG/2019/118). Laura Keaver was the academic supervisor, Dr Diane Cooper was the employment-based mentor. True Fitness had no role in the analysis of results.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by Ruth Kavanagh and Laura Keaver. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Ruth Kavanagh and Laura Keaver, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Laura Keaver.

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Kavanagh, R., Cooper, D., Bolton, J. et al. The impact of a 6-week community-based physical activity and health education intervention—a pilot study among Irish farmers. Ir J Med Sci 191, 433–445 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-021-02579-2

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Keywords

  • Community
  • Farmer
  • Health
  • Intervention