Published In

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Document Type


Publication Date



Physical fitness, Program development, Health promotion, Exercise -- Psychological aspects, Motivation (Psychology)


Background—Fewer than half of all U.S. adults meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines. Leader behaviors and group cohesion have been associated with increased participation or adherence in sports team and exercise class settings. Physical activity interventions in community settings that encompass these factors may enhance intervention adherence.

Purpose—To examine the impact of Community Health Promoter leader behaviors and group cohesion on participation in a walking group intervention among racially/ethnically diverse adults in low-to-moderate income communities in Detroit, Mich.

Design—Data for the current study were drawn from the Walk Your Heart to Health (WYHH) data set. WYHH was a multi-site cluster randomized controlled study with a lagged intervention and outcome measurements at baseline, four, eight, and 32 weeks. Pooled survey data from both intervention arms is used for the current study. Data were analyzed between August 2013 and October 2014.

Setting/participants—A total of 603 non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic White, and Hispanic adults across five cohorts that began the 32-week WYHH intervention between March 2009 and October 2011.

Intervention—A 32-week long walking group program hosted by community- and faith-based organizations and facilitated by Community Health Promoters. Walking groups met three times per week for 90-minutes per session. To promote participation in or adherence to WYHH, Community Health Promoters used evidence-based strategies to facilitate group cohesion. Group members assumed increasing leadership responsibility for facilitating sessions over time.

Main outcome measures—Participation in WYHH as measured by consistency of attendance.

Results—Community Health Promoter leader behaviors were positively associated with participation in WYHH. Social but not task cohesion was significantly associated with consistent participation. Social cohesion may mediate the relationship between leader behaviors and walking group participation.

Conclusions—Providing leaders with training to build socially cohesive groups may help motivate individuals to continue participation in community-based physical activity programs


Copyright 2015 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0



Persistent Identifier