A 2-year follow-up of a lifestyle physical activity versus a structured exercise intervention in older adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Sep;59(9):1602-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03551.x. Epub 2011 Aug 24.


Objectives: To evaluate the long-term effects of a lifestyle intervention and a structured exercise intervention on physical fitness and cardiovascular risk factors in older adults.

Design: Controlled trial with randomization between the intervention groups.

Setting: Belgium, Vlaams-Brabant.

Participants: One hundred eighty-six sedentary but healthy men and women aged 60 to 83.

Interventions: Participants in the lifestyle intervention were stimulated to integrate physical activity into their daily routines and received an individualized home-based program supported by telephone calls. The structured intervention consisted of three weekly supervised sessions in a fitness center. Both interventions lasted 11 months and focused on endurance, strength, flexibility, and postural and balance exercises.

Measurements: Cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, functional performance, blood pressure, and body composition were measured before (pretest), at the end (11 months, posttest), and 1 year after the end (23 months, follow-up) of the interventions.

Results: The results from pretest to posttest have already been published. The current study analyzed the results from posttest to follow-up. There was a decrease in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, and functional performance from posttest to follow-up in the structured intervention group but not in the control group or the lifestyle intervention group. At 23 months, participants in both groups still showed improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness. In addition, the structured group showed long-term improvements in muscular fitness, whereas the lifestyle group showed long-term improvements in functional performance. No long-term effects were found for blood pressure or body composition.

Conclusion: These results highlight the potential of a structured fitness center-based intervention and a home-based lifestyle intervention in the battle against inactivity in older adults. Lifestyle programs are especially valuable because they require fewer resources and less time from health institutions and health practitioners.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Belgium
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Risk Factors