Multilevel mHealth Intervention Increases Physical Activity of Older Adults Living in Retirement Community

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Regular physical activity is crucial for healthy aging, but older adults are the least active age group. This study explored the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of a multilevel mHealth intervention for increasing physical activity of older adults living in a retirement community. Methods: Participants included 54 older adults (mean age = 81.2 y, 77.8% female, 98.1% white) living in a retirement community. Participants received a Fitbit Zip and access to a multilevel mHealth physical activity intervention (MapTrek Residential) for 8 weeks. Physical activity (in steps per day) and intervention compliance (days worn) were measured objectively with the Fitbit for 12 weeks (8-wk intervention plus 4-wk follow-up). Psychosocial outcomes (social support, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations) were assessed at baseline and 8 weeks. Acceptability outcomes were assessed with an open-ended process evaluation survey and focus groups. Descriptive statistics and linear mixed models were used to examine intervention effects. Results: Participants increased daily steps from 5438 steps per day at baseline (95% CI, 4620 to 6256) to 6201 steps per day (95% CI, 5359 to 7042) at week 8 (P < .0001) but this was not maintained at 12 weeks (P = .92). Conclusions: Our multilevel mHealth physical activity intervention was effective for increasing physical activity older adults over 8 weeks. Additional research focused on maintaining physical activity gains with this approach is warranted.

Hosteng and Carr are with the Department of Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA. Simmering and Francis are with the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA. L.A. Polgreen is with the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA. Cremer and Segre are with the Department of Computer Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA. Whitaker is with the Department of Health and Human Physiology, Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA. P.M. Polgreen is with the Departments of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Iowa; and The University of Iowa Health Ventures’ Signal Center for Healthcare Innovation, Iowa City, IA, USA.

Carr (lucas-carr@uiowa.edu) is corresponding author.
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