Activity Adherence and Physical Function in Older Adults with Functional Limitations

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Purpose:Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Pilot (LIFE-P) was a trial to examine the effects of a physical activity intervention (PA) compared with a health education control (SA) on measures of disability risk in sedentary older adults (N = 424). We examined adherence to the LIFE-P PA intervention for the first 12 months of the trial.Methods:The PA intervention consisted of walking, strength, flexibility, and balance training supplemented with behavioral skills training modules, and it used a phased, center-based schedule of adoption (3× wk−1, weeks 1-8), transition (2× wk−1, weeks 9-24), and maintenance (1× wk−1, weeks 25 to end of trial) while transitioning to primarily home-based physical activity. SA consisted of weekly (weeks 1-26) transitioning to monthly health education workshops.Results:Participation in moderate-intensity physical activity increased from baseline to months 6 and 12 in PA compared with SA (P < 0.001). At 12 months, PA participants who reported ≥ 150 min·wk−1 of moderate activity demonstrated a significantly greater improvement in their Short Physical Performance Battery score compared with participants who reported < 150 min·wk−1 of moderate activity (P < 0.017). For the PA arm, center-based attendance was 76.3 ± 24.5, 65.4 ± 28.6, and 49.8 ± 35.8% in the adoption, transition, and maintenance phases, respectively.Conclusions:Adherence to physical activity in LIFE-P was associated with greater improvement in SPPB score and was consistent with adherence in physical activity trials of shorter duration in this subgroup of older adults. Older individuals at risk for disability can adhere to a regular program of physical activity in a long-term randomized trial.

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