Moderating Effects of Weather-Related Factors on a Physical Activity Intervention

Whitney A. Welch*, Bonnie Spring, Siobhan M. Phillips, Juned Siddique

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: The purpose of this study is to identify whether weather-related factors moderate the effect of a physical activity (PA) intervention. Methods: Participants (N=204, 77% female, mean age 33 [SD=11] years, mean BMI 28.2 [SD=7.1]) from the Make Better Choices 1 trial, enrolled April 2005 to April 2008, were randomized to one of two treatment conditions: (1) increase moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) treatment group, or (2) decrease sedentary behavior control group. Participants wore an accelerometer for 5 weeks: a 2-week baseline assessment followed by a 3-week intervention. Accelerometer data were used to estimate minutes/day of MVPA. Average daily temperature, day length, and precipitation were obtained from the National Climatic Data Center and combined with the accelerometer data. Linear mixed effects models were used to determine whether these weather-related factors moderated the effect of the intervention on MVPA. Separate models were fit for season, daily average temperature, and day length. Results: There was a significant moderating effect of season on MVPA such that the PA intervention, as compared with control, increased MVPA 10.4 minutes more in the summer than in the winter (95% CI=1.1, 19.6, p=0.029). There was a significant moderating effect of daily temperature such that every 10°F increase in temperature was associated with an additional 1.5 minutes/day increase in the difference in MVPA increase between the two intervention conditions (95% CI=0.1, 2.9, p=0.015). There was a significant moderating effect of day length such that every additional hour of daylight was associated with a 2.23-minute increase in the PA intervention's impact on increasing MVPA (95% CI=0.8, 3.7, p=0.002). Conclusions: Day length and temperature had a significant moderating effect on change in MVPA during a PA intervention such that the intervention was less effective on colder days and on shorter days, independently. These results suggest that strategies to overcome environmental barriers should be considered when designing PA interventions for adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e83-e89
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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