Supported Research

Academy Title: Efficacy of Adding a Weekly Class to an Internet-Based Physical Activity Program for Older Adults
Efficacy of Adding a Weekly Class to an Internet-Based Physical Activity Program for Older Adults\

Nicole Rogers, PhD

Wichita State University

BACKGROUND. A vast amount of research supports the hypothesis that regular physical activity improves health and function, and contributes to the prevention or delay of disability and disease. Despite this evidence, most older adults are not sufficiently active. PURPOSE. The primary aim of this pilot project is to implement, and demonstrate the efficacy of, a blended delivery multi-component physical activity program designed to meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendation that older adults regularly engage in a well-rounded exercise program. Specific aims include improving participants’ functional fitness, motivating older adults to engage in and sustain regular physical activity, and determining if older adults can successfully navigate the program web site. An additional aim is to train senior center program directors in the administration of the internet portion of the program.

PARTICIPANTS. Approximately 40 male and female older adults aged 55+ years will be recruited from local community centers, senior centers, retirement communities, other senior-based programs and media publications. Activity classes will be held at 2 of Senior Services, Inc. of Wichita’s senior centers. All volunteers will participate in the intervention program. The control group will be drawn from a similar project implemented at Senior Services, Inc. of Wichita’s Downtown Senior Center. The identical nature of the study setting, population, and project length makes the shared use of a control group an acceptable design. Thus, this study employs a quasi-experimental design. INTERVENTION. The First Step to Active Health – Online Plus program will consist of: (a) flexibility training; (b) strength training; (c) balance training; and (d) cardio-respiratory activity. A blended intervention, participants will meet for 12 weeks at a local senior center once/week for 50 minutes for instructor-led exercise while supplementing class with home exercise an additional 2 days/week. Participants will be asked to gradually increase aerobic activities to at least 5, if not 7, days a week. Participants will receive a pedometer to monitor daily activity and will be given access to the program web site (a user-friendly interactive, secure, online method to motivate, educate, and track activity). The site will consist of seven elements: education, step tracking logs and graphs to monitor progress, individualized goals, strength training routines and tracking, progression along a virtual US trail, walking competition, and motivational newsletters.

EVALUATION. Program effectiveness will be assessed using Rikli and Jones Functional Fitness Battery (chair stand, arm curl, chair sit and reach, 8-foot up & go, scratch test, and 12-min walk); Measures Of Balance (four-way limits of stability); Daily Activity (steps and non-translatory activity); Physical Assessments (height, weight, blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index); Body Composition (bioelectrical impedance); Questionnaires evaluating fear of falling and functional limitations; Class Attendance; and Website Utilization/Usability.

The 8-week intervention will be blended, meaning participants will meet for 50 minutes at one of two participating local senior centers one day/week for instructor-led exercise while also supplementing classes with home exercise an additional 2 days per week. Participants will also be asked to gradually increase their aerobic activities at least 5, if not, 7 days a week. Program exercises will consist of: (a) flexibility training; (b) strength training; (c) balance training; and (d) increasing cardio-respiratory activity. The class instructor will progress through the program at a pace deemed appropriate for participants. Classes will be taught by an instructor with extensive experience leading older adult

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