“Fit and Fabulous”: Mixed-Methods Research on Processes, Perceptions, and Outcomes of a Yearlong Gym Program With Assisted-Living Residents

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study’s mixed-methods design sought to understand how to encourage assisted-living (AL) residents to initiate and continue exercise in a gym setting. Ten residents participated in this yearlong program. Processes developed and perceived benefits were understood through interviews and observations. Changes in active time, lower body strength, and workload were evaluated using direct measures. Findings indicated that AL residents regularly used exercise machines (mean participation = 53.8%) and increased active time and lower body strength (p = .02) when adequately prepared and supported. Participants prioritized gym time and developed pride and ownership in the program. They described themselves as exercisers and developed a sense of belonging to their new home. Friendships with one another, staff, and university partners were nurtured in the gym setting. When provided space, equipment, trained staff, and additional resource support, AL residents’ quality of life and life satisfaction were enhanced in several domains.

Kluge is with the Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and LeCompte and Ramel, the Dept. of Health Promotions, University of Colorado–Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO.