The application of peer mentoring to improve fitness in older adults

J Aging Phys Act. 2009 Jul;17(3):344-61. doi: 10.1123/japa.17.3.344.


Purpose: To investigate the effectiveness of a peer-mentored exercise program, this study compared the program perception, retention and participation rates, and physical improvements of older adults trained by peer mentors (PMs) with those of a group trained by student mentors (SMs).

Methods: After a 30-week peer-mentor preparation, 60 older adults (M +/- SD age: 68.7 +/- 6.1 yr) were recruited and randomly assigned to either the PM or the SM group. Both groups completed an identical 14-week fitness program. Pre- and posttraining assessments of fitness were completed, and the efficacy of the PMs and SMs was surveyed.

Results: High retention was observed in both groups, but the SM group had higher participation. Both groups improved their fitness significantly, with no significant posttest differences between the groups in most fitness measures or in program perception rates.

Discussion: Findings suggest effectiveness of the peer-mentor model in an older adult exercise program.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentors*
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Group*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires