African Health Sciences

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Walking as a feasible means of effecting positive changes in BMI, waist, and blood pressure in black South African women

Philippe Jean-Luc Gradidge, Precious Nkhensani Golele


Background: In the context of a growing obesity pandemic in sub-Saharan African countries little is known on how to address the problem /disease in the region.
Methods: A randomised controlled trial of walking to decrease obesity was conducted using 115 women employed at the University of Venda, Limpopo province. 49 of these participants were randomly selected into an intervention group, which walked for 30 minutes, 3 days per week for a period of 12 weeks on treadmills located in the university gym. The control group were instructed to continue with usual activities. Baseline and follow-up body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure (BP), body size discrepancy (measured by a feel-minus-ideal (FID) index), and physical activity were collected on all participants.
Results: The absolute changes in BMI, waist, systolic and diastolic BP in the intervention group was -0.80, -1.50, -4.02 and -2.37, respectively. In contrast, the absolute changes for these were +1.05, +1.73, +4.64 and +4.94, respectively in the control group. The results of the FID analysis showed that most had a desire for thinness.
Conclusion: Our data demonstrates that positive changes in BMI, waist, and BP were observed in the intervention group, indicating the potential scalability of the intervention.

Keywords: Exercise, blood pressure, obesity, intervention.

AJOL African Journals Online