Comparative effects of two physical activity programs on measured and perceived physical functioning and other health-related quality of life outcomes in older adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000 Feb;55(2):M74-83. doi: 10.1093/gerona/55.2.m74.


Background: Although inactivity is an important contributor to impaired functioning and disability with age, little is known concerning how improvements in physical functioning and well-being in older adults vary with the type of physical activity undertaken.

Methods: One hundred three adults age 65 years and older, recruited via population-based methods, were randomized to 12 months of community-based, moderate-intensity endurance and strengthening exercises (Fit & Firm) or stretching and flexibility exercises (Stretch & Flex). A combination of class- and home-based exercise formats was used. Measured and self-rated physical performance along with perceived functioning and well-being were assessed pre- and postintervention.

Results: Fit & Firm subjects showed greater 12-month improvements in both measured and self-rated endurance and strength compared to Stretch & Flex subjects. Stretch & Flex subjects reported greater improvements in bodily pain, and Stretch & Flex men evidenced greater improvements in flexibility relative to Fit & Firm subjects. Although overall exercise adherence was high in both exercise conditions (approximately 80%), subjects in both conditions showed better adherence to the home- versus class-based portions of their exercise prescriptions.

Conclusions: Community-based programs focusing on moderate-intensity endurance and strengthening exercises or flexibility exercises can be delivered through a combination of formats that result in improvement in important functional and well-being outcomes. This represents one of the first studies to report significant improvements in an important quality of life outcome-bodily pain-with a regular regimen of stretching and flexibility exercises in a community-based sample of older adults.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Walking / physiology