Best-practice physical activity programs for older adults: findings from the national impact study

Am J Public Health. 2009 Feb;99(2):362-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.131466. Epub 2008 Dec 4.


Objectives: We assessed the impact of existing best-practice physical activity programs for older adults on physical activity participation and health-related outcomes.

Methods: We used a multisite, randomized trial with 544 older adults (mean age 66 years) and measures at baseline, 5, and 10 months to test the impact of a multiple-component physical activity program compared with results for a control group that did not participate in such a program.

Results: For adults who participated in a multiple-component physical activity program, we found statistically significant benefits at 5 and 10 months with regard to self-efficacy for exercise adherence over time (P < .001), adherence in the face of barriers (P = .01), increased upper- and lower-body strength (P = .02, P = .01), and exercise participation (P = .01).

Conclusions: Best-practice community-based physical activity programs can measurably improve aspects of functioning that are risk factors for disability among older adults. US public policy should encourage these inexpensive health promotion programs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Self Efficacy*
  • United States