National Impact Study: Best Practice Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults, 2004-2006 (ICPSR 23240)

Published: Nov 11, 2008

Principal Investigator(s):
Susan L. Hughes, University of Illinois at Chicago

Version V1

Evaluation of Physical Activity Programs for Sedentary Mid-Life and Older Adults: Best Principles, Practices, and Programs

Impact of Best Practice Physical Activity Programs on Older Adults

This study was one of three modules in a larger study designed to define, identify, and disseminate information about best practice physical activity programming in community-based organizations. The National Council on the Aging (NCOA), together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), conducted Module 1, a national competition for NCOA Awards for Excellence in Physical Activity Programming. The purpose of the competition was to bring national attention to best practice in physical activity programming operated by local public or non-profit organizations that serve older adults. NCOA was assisted in this endeavor by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Healthy Aging Research Network of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Prevention Research Centers, and a variety of nationally known physical activity experts. Module 2 was a census of physical activity programs for older adults that was conducted in seven locations by Healthy Aging Research Network. Module 3 was this National Impact Study, a study of best practice programming at three community-based organizations serving older adults. It was designed to answer the research question, "Do best practice physical activity programs provided by community-based organizations have a measurable impact on the health and well being of participants?" The three studied organizations were among the ten winners of the best practice competition.

Data were collected from previously sedentary, volunteer participants from each of the three organizations. The goal was to enroll 250 older adults at each site for a total of 750 subjects across the three programs. At each site, one half of all subjects (n = 125) were to be assigned to the treatment group and the other half to a control group. Subjects in the treatment group participated in the best practice program classes while the control group could enroll in other exercise classes but not the best practice program classes. The subjects were to be interviewed three times: baseline, three months, and nine months. Each interview contained two parts: (1) the administration of health and exercise related questions and (2) the administration of four physical fitness tests that assessed the respondent's strength, flexibility and aerobic endurance. Background information collected by the survey includes age, education, employment status, marital status, income, race, and Hispanic origin.

Hughes, Susan L. National Impact Study: Best Practice Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults, 2004-2006. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-11-11.

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (44931)

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2004 -- 2006

2004 -- 2006

The National Council on the Aging was the lead agency on the overall project while Susan Hughes of the UIC Center for Research on Health and Aging was the principal investigator of the impact study.

Volunteer sample of older adults recruited from senior centers, community centers, and the community.

Previously sedentary adults, absent of cognitive impairment and released for physical exercise by their physician, who were aged 50 or older in Madison, Wisconsin or aged 55 or older in Silver Spring, Maryland or Raleigh, North Carolina. These cities were home to the three participating community-based organizations: (1) Madison School and Community Recreation Goodman-Rotary 50+ Exercise Program, (2) Holy Cross Hospital, Community Health -- Senior Fit (Silver Spring), and (3) Resources for Seniors, Inc. (Raleigh). Key criteria for the selection of the participating organizations were the presence of a strong multicomponent exercise class (flexibility training, strength training, and aerobic conditioning in a single class) and the capacity to meet the requirements of participation in the impact study.

experimental data

The study obtained five-month outcomes for 228 (79 percent) treatment-group participants and 145 (57 percent) control-group participants, and obtained ten-month outcomes for 229 (79 percent) treatment-group participants and 149 (57 percent) control-group participants.

The first part included the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS) physical activity questionnaire for older adults, the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales instrument for use with frail elderly respondents (GERI-AIMS), items from the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale (CES-D 10) instrument, and instruments for other scales. Several computed indices are included in the data, e.g., caloric expenditure per week for exercise-related activities, the body-mass index, CES-D 10, the Outcome Expectations for Exercise Scale, and scales of self-efficacy for exercise, exercise adherence over time, and exercise adherence in the face of barriers.



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