“It’s Better Together”: A Nested Longitudinal Study Examining the Benefits of Walking Regularly With Peers Versus Primarily Alone in Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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The authors examined whether purposeful walking with peers at least once a week contributes to better behavioral and health outcomes in older adults than primarily walking alone. The authors used a longitudinal cohort design and recruited participants aged 60 years and older (N = 136) at the start of a 16-week walking intervention. Participants who walked on average at least once a week in the final 8 weeks of the intervention were included in the analysis (N = 79; 66 females, Mage [SD] = 77.73 [6.91]). The authors found that autonomous motivation, walking self-efficacy, functional capacity, body fat, and physical activity improved more in the walking with peers group compared with the walking alone group, after controlling for whether participants lived alone/with others and their health status. The results extend current literature by providing longitudinal evidence for the added benefits of regular peer-accompanied walking in older adults and highlight the importance of investing in peer-supported interventions.

Kritz, Thøgersen-Ntoumani, Mullan, and Ntoumanis are with the Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine Research Group, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia. Kritz, Thøgersen-Ntoumani, and Ntoumanis are also with the Physical Activity and Well-Being Research Group, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia. Stathi is with the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Thøgersen-Ntoumani (c.thogersen@curtin.edu.au) is corresponding author.

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