Best-Practice Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults

Findings from the National Impact Study

In this article, the authors assessed the impact of existing best-practice physical activity programs for older adults on physical activity participation and health-related outcomes.

Using a multisite, randomized trial with 544 older adult participants (mean age 66 years) and measures at baseline, five, and 10 months, the authors tested the impact of a multiple-component physical activity program compared with results for a control group that did not participate in such a program. Adults who participated in a multiple-component physical activity program were found to have statistically significant benefits at five and 10 months with regard to self-efficacy for exercise adherence over time, adherence in the face of barriers, increased upper- and lower-body strength, and exercise participation.

The study concluded that 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.