Best-practice physical activity programs for older adults: findings from the national impact study

Am J Public Health. 2009 Feb;99(2):362-8. [See on PubMed.]
Authors: Hughes SL, Seymour RB, Campbell RT, Whitelaw N, Bazzarre T.

Objectives: We assessed the impact of existing best-practice physical activity programs for older adults on physical activity participation and health-related outcomes. Methods: We used a multisite, randomized trial with 544 older adults (mean age 66 years) and measures at baseline, 5, and 10 months to test the impact of a multiple-component physical activity program compared with results for a control group that did not participate in such a program. Results: For adults who participated in a multiple-component physical activity program, we found statistically significant benefits at 5 and 10 months with regard to self-efficacy for exercise adherence over time (P<.001), adherence in the face of barriers (P=.01), increased upper- and lower-body strength (P=.02, P=.01), and exercise participation (P=.01). Conclusions: Best-practice community-based physical activity programs can measurably improve aspects of functioning that are risk factors for disability among older adults. U.S. public policy should encourage these inexpensive health promotion programs.

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