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The authors describe a medical center-based randomized trial aimed at determining the feasibility and effectiveness of partnering patients and primary-care providers with an exercise health counselor. Study participants included 165 veterans age 70 years and older. The primary end point was change in physical activity at 3 and 6 months comparing patients receiving high-intensity physical activity counseling, attention control counseling, and usual care after receiving standardized clinic-based counseling. We noted a significant Group × Time interaction (p = .041) for physical activity frequency and a similar effect for caloric expenditure (p = .054). Participants receiving high-intensity counseling and usual care increased physical activity over the short term, but those with usual care returned to baseline by the end of the study. The intervention was well received by practitioners and patients. We conclude that partnering primary-care providers with specialized exercise counselors for age- and health-appropriate physical activity counseling is effective.

Morey, Crowley, Peterson, and McConnell are with the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, and Morey, Ekelund, Pearson, McConnell, and Bosworth, the Dept. of Research and Development, Durham VA Medical Center, 508 Fulton St., Durham, NC 27705. Morey, Crowley, Peterson, Sloane, Pieper, McConnell, and Bosworth are with the Duke Medical Center, Center on Aging/OAIC, Durham, NC.