The term “community-based” can refer to many types of physical activity interventions. The bulk of physical activity research in older adults focuses on changing individual behavior, sometimes in community settings. Addressing the nation’s goal of increasing the proportion of physically active older adults requires more programs to improve contextual factors that support individual behavior and calls for introducing into community settings successful individual-level programs based on solid research. The social ecology model provides an ideal multilevel framework for community-wide efforts. In conjunction with programs to increase the types and levels of physical activity of older adults, changes can be directed at social, cultural, environmental, institutional, and policy contexts for individual behavior change. Guidelines and evaluation methods, including cost analysis of developing, implementing, and sustaining programs, are needed. Recommendations are made to advance community-based strategies for promoting physical activity among adults age 50 and older.
The author is with the Institute for Health & Aging, UC San Francisco, 3333 California St., Suite 340, San Francisco, CA 94118.