AARP Studies Its Web-Based Exercise Program for Older Adults

Testing interventions to promote physical activity among mid-life and older adults

The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) research staff proposed a study in 2001 to examine what motivates mid-life and older adults to increase their physical activity and the barriers they face in doing so.

Project staff planned to interview a sample of AARP members who had chosen not to participate in AARP's Web-based physical activity program, The Fit Lane, and compare them to those who participated. However, all 100 "non-participants" contacted declined to be interviewed, and AARP suspended the study.

Subsequently, AARP staff completed an evaluation of The Fit Lane based entirely on responses of people who registered or participated, and reported their observations to RWJF.

Key Findings

  • Those who completed the program generally expressed enthusiasm about The Fit Lane.

  • Comments from those who did not complete the program suggest that the website had some serious limitations. In particular, the text was too dense.

  • Non-participants also suggested that AARP change the order of the sections of The Fit Lane to separate out those serious about enrolling from those who sign on only to browse the site.

  • Individuals initially drawn to The Fit Lane website appeared to be knowledgeable about the Internet and about exercise. They preferred formats found at other physical activity-related websites (e.g., point-and-click options, drop-down menus and emails tailored to their interests) and found the site's content too limited.