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235. Maintaining Physical Activity Among Older Adults: 24-month Outcomes

Research Article
Martinson, Brain C et al
July 2010

Source: Preventive Medicine, 2010, 51:37-44

Commentary by Rona Macniven, Cluster for Physical Activity and Health (CPAH), University of Sydney

This study focuses on assessing the maintenance of increases in physical activity at 6-, 12-, and 24-month following the Keep Active Minnesota (KAM), a telephone and mail-based intervention designed to promote physical activity maintenance among currently active adults age 50 to 70. It provides a rare example of successful maintenance of behaviour change to increase physical activity in this mid-older adult population who are often susceptible to declines in physical activity.

Keep Active Minnesota was a large-scale randomised control trial which recruited 1,049 adults who had recently increased moderate-vigorous physical activity levels to 30 minutes on at least two days a week. They were randomly assigned to either receive the intervention or usual care. The intervention consisted of a 24-month interactive telephone and mail-based physical activity support program, based on Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and relapse prevention theory. Intervention strategies included goal setting, identification of barriers, and problem solving, behaviour self-monitoring using pedometers and log-books, telephone coaching support, leveraging participants’ social support networks. The Usual Care group received information about the 10,000 steps program and 4 newsletters focused on general health and wellness.

Using the CHAMPS (Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors) questionnaire to measure physical activity at 6-, 12-, and 24-month follow-up, the intervention group had higher Kcal/wk expenditure in moderate or vigorous activities at each three time-points: 6 months (p<.03, Cohen’s d6m =.16); 12 months (p<.04, d12m = .13); and 24 months (p<.01, d24m = .16)

These findings are very encouraging as they show long-term effectiveness of increasing physical activity. Conversely, much of the literature shows that for those who successfully increase their activity levels, behaviour change maintenance is far rarer. These study results are also promising as participants are from the mid-older adult ‘baby boom’ generation and are an important population for physical activity promotion.

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