Best Practices for Physical Activity Programs and Behavior Counseling in Older Adult Populations

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Physical activity offers one of the greatest opportunities for people to extend years of active independent life and reduce functional limitations. The article identifies key practices for promoting physical activity in older adults, with a focus on those with chronic disease or low fitness and those with low levels of physical activity. Key practices identified: (a) A multidimensional activity program that includes endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility training is optimal for health and functional benefits; (b) principles of behavior change including social support, self-efficacy, active choices, health contracts, assurances of safety, and positive reinforcement enhance adherence; (c) manage risk by beginning at low intensity but gradually increasing to moderate physical activity, which has a better risk:benefit ratio and should be the goal for older adults; (d) an emergency procedure plan is prudent for community-based programs; and (e) monitoring aerobic intensity is important for progression and motivation. Selected content review of physical activity programming from major organizations and institutions is provided.

Cress is with the Dept. of Exercise Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. Buchner is with the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA. Prohaska is with the School of Public Health, and Rimmer, the Dept. of Disability and Human Development, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Brown is with the School of Health Professions, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. Macera is with the Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182. DiPietro is with the J.B. Pierce Laboratory, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Chodzko-Zajko is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61801. This article (pp. 61-74) is published free of copyright and may be reproduced in any form, without restriction, and without further permission from Human Kinetics.