"It's Better Together": A Nested Longitudinal Study Examining the Benefits of Walking Regularly With Peers Versus Primarily Alone in Older Adults

J Aging Phys Act. 2021 Jun 1;29(3):455-465. doi: 10.1123/japa.2020-0091. Epub 2020 Dec 4.

Abstract

The authors examined whether purposeful walking with peers at least once a week contributes to better behavioral and health outcomes in older adults than primarily walking alone. The authors used a longitudinal cohort design and recruited participants aged 60 years and older (N = 136) at the start of a 16-week walking intervention. Participants who walked on average at least once a week in the final 8 weeks of the intervention were included in the analysis (N = 79; 66 females, Mage [SD] = 77.73 [6.91]). The authors found that autonomous motivation, walking self-efficacy, functional capacity, body fat, and physical activity improved more in the walking with peers group compared with the walking alone group, after controlling for whether participants lived alone/with others and their health status. The results extend current literature by providing longitudinal evidence for the added benefits of regular peer-accompanied walking in older adults and highlight the importance of investing in peer-supported interventions.

Keywords: motivation; peer groups; retirement villages; walking self-efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Peer Group
  • Walking*