E-mailing practical suggestions for healthy living on a weekly basis can help people get moving and eat better, according to a study by Kaiser Permanente and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the study, 351 Kaiser Permanente Northern California employees received weekly e-mails for 16 weeks suggesting simple, tailored health goals, including eating fruit as a snack three times a week at lunch and walking to the store instead of driving. Another 436 workers received an initial e-mail at the start of the trial and no follow-up. The program was provided by Berkeley, Calif.-based wellness company NutritionQuest.
The least healthy members of the intervention group saw the best results, researchers found. These employees boosted participation in moderate intensity physical activities by almost an hour a week and lowered the amount of time they spent in sedentary activities, like watching TV, by about two hours a week. These changes continued four months after the intervention ended, according to the study.
"The takeaway message here for people who want to improve their diet and physical activity, and for employers who want a healthier workforce, is that e-mail intervention programs are a very cost-effective way to get healthy," Barbara Sternfeld, senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study's lead investigator, said in a statement.