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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #348114

Research Project: Sarcopenia, Nutrition, and Physical Activity

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Disseminating a clinically effective physical activity program to preserve mobility in a community setting for older adults

Author
item Laussen, Jonathan - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Kowaleski, Chris - City Of Somerville Council On Aging
item Martin, Kimberly - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Hickey, Cindy - City Of Somerville Council On Aging
item Fielding, Roger - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Reid, Kieran - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University

Submitted to: The Journal of Frailty and Aging
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/5/2016
Publication Date: 2/15/2016
Citation: Laussen, J.C., Kowaleski, C., Martin, K., Hickey, C., Fielding, R.A., Reid, K.F. 2016. Disseminating a clinically effective physical activity program to preserve mobility in a community setting for older adults. The Journal of Frailty and Aging. 5(2):82-87. https://doi.org/10.14283/jfa.2016.94.

Interpretive Summary: As the population of older adults continues to increase, it is important to research strategies that prolong the independence of older persons. Recent evidence from clinical trials demonstrated that moderate intensity physical activity reduces major mobility disability in at-risk older adults. However, it remains unknown whether structured physical activity interventions, with demonstrated efficacy in controlled, clinical environments, can be successfully disseminated into community settings to benefit wider populations of older adults. To help address this knowledge gap, this study assessed a community-based physical activity program that was adapted from a large, randomized clinical trial. At an urban senior center, fifty older adults (average age 71 years) participated in the Fit-4-Life Program, a physical activity and nutrition counseling intervention, for approximately eight months. Mobility, physical activity level, strength, and quality of life were assessed at baseline and follow-up through various physical assessments and questionnaires. On average, participants increased their physical activity level by over one hour per week. There were meaningful improvements in mobility, leg strength and quality of life. Fourteen participants dropped out of the program, and examination of baseline characteristics revealed they were more likely to be sedentary at baseline compared to those who remained in the program. Our analysis suggests that it is possible to disseminate a clinically effective physical activity program into a community setting. This knowledge may be helpful for the design and implementation of larger-scale community-based physical activity programs for older adults.

Technical Abstract: Background: As the population of older adults continues to increase, the dissemination of strategies to maintain independence of older persons is of critical public health importance. Recent large-scale clinical trial evidence has definitively shown intervention of moderate-intensity physical activity (PA) reduces major mobility disability in at-risk older adults. However, it remains unknown whether structured PA interventions, with demonstrated efficacy in controlled, clinical environments, can be successfully disseminated into community settings to benefit wider populations of older adults. Objective: To assess the dissemination of an evidence-based PA program for older adults by evaluating program participation and its impact on mobility, strength and quality of life. Setting: An urban senior center. Participants: Fifty older adults (71.2 +/- 8 years aged; BMI: 30.1 +/- 7 kg/m2). Intervention: Average of 8.0 +/- 1.8 months of participation in the Fit-4-Life Program, a community-based PA and nutrition counseling intervention. Measurements: Mobility (Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB)), self-reported physical activity (CHAMPS questionnaire), leg strength, grip strength, and quality of life (Quality of Well-Being Self-Administered (QWB-SA) scale) were assessed at baseline and follow-up. Results: Mean attendance was 55.8%. Fourteen participants were lost to follow-up. Those who dropped-out engaged in less PA at baseline (78 +/- 108 mins/wk) compared to those who completed follow-up (203 +/- 177 mins/wk, P=0.01). Participants exhibited sustained increases of PA (65 +/- 153 mins/wk, P= 0.08), and there were meaningful improvements in SPPB (0.5 +/- 0.2, P< 0.01), knee extensor strength (2.6 +/- 4.4 kg, P< 0.01) and QWB-SA (0.04 +/- 0.09, P= 0.05). Conclusion: The dissemination of a clinically efficacious PA intervention into a community-based setting can improve mobility, strength and quality of life for older adults. This knowledge may be helpful for the design and implementation of larger-scale PA intervention studies designed to preserve mobility in older adults within community-based settings.