Maintenance of Change in the Active-for-Life Initiative

The Active for Life (AFL) research initiative generated a sustained increase in physical activity among midlife and older adults. The success of the initiative demonstrates that researchers can translate their findings into effective physical activity programs. Many physical activity interventions do not use their findings to create programs and initiatives. These interventions never realize their potential to create long-term lifestyle improvements in their target populations.

AFL, conducted between 2003 and 2007, was a physical activity intervention that translated its research into a pair of successful physical activity initiatives. The goal of AFL was to get midlife and older adults to exercise more often. The adults who participated had inactive lifestyles prior to the intervention. Based on its findings, AFL created two programs: Active Choices (AC), a six-month program that used face-to-face meetings and telephone calls; and Active Living Every Day (ALED), a 20-week, group program.

The community-based organizations that administered the AFL programs requested this follow-up study, completed six months after the intervention. Researchers classified the physical activity levels of each individual participant. Participants rated their own satisfaction with body function (SBF) for the four weeks prior to the follow-up study. Researchers used height and weight measurements to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI).

Key Findings:

  • Participants in the AC program maintained increases in physical activity levels between the end of the program and the follow-up.
  • In the ALED program, BMI was significantly lower after six months.

Physical Activity interventions can create lasting changes in behavior if researchers translate their findings into community-based programs. This study found that AFL participants had maintained their increased physical activity levels after six months.