Feasibility of a Lifestyle Physical Activity Intervention to Prevent Memory Loss in Older Women With Cardiovascular Disease: A Mixed-Methods Approach

Can J Nurs Res. 2020 Dec;52(4):278-289. doi: 10.1177/0844562119856233. Epub 2019 Jun 29.


Background: Memory loss in older age affects women more than men and cardiovascular disease is a leading risk factor. Physical activity can improve memory in healthy older adults; however, few physical activity interventions have targeted women with cardiovascular disease, and none utilized lifestyle approaches.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of a 24-week lifestyle physical activity intervention (physical activity prescription, five group meetings, and nine motivational interviewing calls).

Methods: A sequential mixed-methods approach was used. Participants were 18 sedentary women ≥65 years with cardiovascular disease and without cognitive impairment recruited in August 2017. Feasibility, acceptability, self-reported health, accelerometer-assessed physical activity, and neurocognitive memory tests were measured using a pre-post test design. Two post-intervention focus groups (n = 8) were conducted in June 2018. Concept analysis was used to identify barriers/motivators of intervention participation.

Results: Meeting attendance was >72% and retention was 94%. Participants rated the program with high satisfaction. There were significant improvements at 24 weeks in self-rated physical health, objective daily steps, and estimated cardiorespiratory fitness (d = .30-.64). Focus group themes generated recommendations for modifying the intervention.

Conclusion: Findings support adapting the intervention further for women with cardiovascular disease and testing it in an efficacy trial.

Keywords: Exercise; cardiovascular diseases; cognition; health behavior; health promotion.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Exercise
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / prevention & control