Background: The continued prevalence of sedentary behavior in older adults underscores the need for physical activity promotion. Physician-delivered activity counseling may be an important avenue of promoting physical activity for these individuals. The Physically Active for Life (PAL) project was a randomized study of the effects of brief physician counseling plus follow-up on physical activity behaviors in older adults.
Method: Twelve practices were randomized to the intervention group and 12 to standard care. Physicians in the intervention group participated in a 1-hour training session and received support materials for exercise counseling. Pre-assessment and post-assessment of self-reported exercise counseling behaviors and confidence in providing exercise counseling were obtained from physicians in the study. Patient evaluations of the exercise counseling and support materials were also obtained.
Results: Results showed that physicians favorably endorsed the training and the support materials, and reported adherence to delivery of the intervention protocol. Comparisons between the two groups showed significant improvements in confidence for intervention-group physicians, but no significant changes in physician reports of exercise counseling provided to all patients. Patients reported satisfaction with the exercise counseling and support materials.
Conclusions: Physicians and patients indicated the PAL project offered an acceptable and feasible approach to promote physical activity in older adults.