When New York Low-Income Seniors Exercise, Weight Falls and Confidence Rises

Feasibility study on adapting a physical activity program for low-income seniors

Researchers with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tested a 12-week physical activity program that combined aerobics, resistance exercise and motivational activities in a group of 340 low-income, mostly African-American seniors.

Key Findings:

  • At the end of the program, participants reported significantly greater confidence in their ability to exercise (self-efficacy) and greater expectations about the outcomes of exercise, compared with adults who did not participate.
  • In focus groups, seniors most often cited physical activity as the benefit they associated with exercise.
  • Individualized instruction was also a major influence on seniors' willingness to participate in exercise.
  • Social and emotional benefits of exercise are important to older adults.
  • Laziness and unpleasant sensations were two barriers to participation in exercise.