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Community Group-Based Physical Activity Programs for Immigrant Older Adults: A Systematic Realist Review

Jordana Salma, Alesia Au, Sonam Ali, Stephanie Chamberlain, John C. Spence, Allyson Jones, Megan Kennedy, Hongmei Tong, Salima Meherali, Philile Mngomezulu, and Rachel Flynn

Physical activity program interventions often lack sensitivity to the needs of older immigrant adults. The objective of this systematic realist review is to explain how, why, for whom, and under which circumstances community group-based physical activity programs work for immigrant older adults. The initial program theory was developed using prior research, team expertise, social cognitive theory, and knowledge user consultations. The program theory was tested and refined via a systematic review of the literature. Database searches were conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, Cochrane Library, Sports Medicine and Education Index, and SPORTDiscus. A total of 22 sources of evidence met inclusion criteria and included intervention studies, systematic reviews, and a discussion paper. Intervention studies were appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. The final program theory constituted eight context–mechanism–outcome configurations that highlight the importance of facilitator characteristics, access to safe spaces, group dynamics, and social support. A limitation was the small number and variable quality of included evidence. Physical activity programs that target immigrant older adults must strengthen physical and psychological safety and maximize opportunities for role modeling and socialization. This research was supported by the Alberta Health Services Seniors Health Strategic Clinical Network and is registered in PROSPERO (ID#258179).

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“There’s a Lifestyle, an Appreciation, a Beauty”: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Masters Rowers

Jason Rich, Pamela Beach, and Heidi K. Byrne

Masters rowing has seen a measurable increase in participation, with masters rowers engaged in the sport for competition, health, and recreation reasons. Unlike other masters sports, masters rowing has a unique high level of synchronous, cooperative, and interdependent elements. To better understand the benefits and challenges of participation in competitive masters rowing, the purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of competitive masters rowers. Twelve competitive masters rowers were recruited and interviewed. Utilizing an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach to guide data collection, analysis, and interpretation, the analysis revealed four major themes: navigating community relationships, finding a reason to row, growing opportunities, and seeking considerate coaches. Utilizing self-determination theory as a framework for interpreting the findings, the identified themes illustrate the varying motivations, needs, and preferences of competitive masters rowers, as well as how their experiences are influenced by their coaches and peers. Efforts should be made by masters rowing coaches and administrators to better understand the needs of their athletes to ensure the maximum benefits of participation, commitment, and enjoyment of the sport.

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A Novel Behavioral Intervention to Enhance Physical Activity for Older Veterans in a Skilled Nursing Facility

Julie A. Stutzbach, Kristine S. Hare, Allison M. Gustavson, Danielle L. Derlein, Andrea L. Kellogg, and Jennifer E. Stevens-Lapsley

Physical activity levels during skilled nursing facility (SNF) rehabilitation fall far below what is needed for successful community living and to prevent adverse events. This feasibility study’s purpose was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of an intervention designed to improve physical activity in patients admitted to SNFs for short-term rehabilitation. High-Intensity Rehabilitation plus Mobility combined a high-intensity (i.e., high weight, low repetition), progressive (increasing in difficulty over time), and functional resistance rehabilitation intervention with a behavioral economics-based physical activity program. The behavioral economics component included five mobility sessions/week with structured goal setting, gamification, and loss aversion (the idea that people are more likely to change a behavior in response to a potential loss over a potential gain). SNF physical therapists, occupational therapists, and a mobility coach implemented the High-Intensity Rehabilitation plus Mobility protocol with older Veterans (n = 18) from a single SNF. Participants demonstrated high adherence to the mobility protocol and were highly satisfied with their rehabilitation. Treatment fidelity scores for clinicians were ≥95%. We did not observe a hypothesized 40% improvement in step counts or time spent upright. However, High-Intensity Rehabilitation plus Mobility participants made clinically important improvements in short physical performance battery scores and gait speed from admission to discharge that were qualitatively similar to or slightly higher than historical cohorts from the same SNF that had received usual care or high-intensity rehabilitation alone. These results suggest a structured physical activity program can be feasibly combined with high-intensity rehabilitation for SNF residents following a hospital stay.

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A Practice Guide for Physical Therapists Prescribing Physical Exercise for Older Adults

Frederico M. Baptista, Rosa Andias, Nelson P. Rocha, and Anabela G. Silva

Introduction: Physical activity and exercise are protective factors for physical and cognitive decline in older adults, but recent studies reveal that a large percentage of this population do not practice exercise at the levels recommended by international guidelines. The frequency, intensity, type, time, volume, and progression (FITT-VP) principles are a widely used method for prescribing physical exercise, allowing the development of a personalized exercise program that meets the needs of each individual. Objectives: This masterclass is intended to serve as a professional application tool for physical therapists who prescribe physical exercise for older adults. We present a section for each FITT-VP principle to facilitate handling these principles individually when prescribing exercise for this population. Methods: Review of the scientific literature and international guidelines on the prescription of physical exercises for older adults. Results: Aerobic, mobility, resistance, balance, and flexibility exercises, as well as functional training, should be included in an exercise program for older adults, which should be progressed using different methods for each of the exercise modalities. Conclusions: An exercise program for older adults should integrate different exercise modalities. Exercise progression should be performed following the FITT-VP principles and some specific progression factors recommended for each exercise modality. Significance: Considering the challenge faced by clinicians in designing a viable exercise program for older adults that responds to international recommendations, with this masterclass we hope to help physical therapists to plan an exercise program that is feasible and at the same time, responds to the expected needs of this population.

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Exploring the Lived Experiences of Physical Activity in Community-Dwelling Adults Living With Dementia and Their Carers

Joanna Blackwell and Mo Ray

People living with dementia have the same right to well-being as anyone else, including physical activity. Yet, physical activity levels among people with dementia are lower than in the general population, and while the physical activity health benefits are well established, little is known about how people living with dementia experience physical activity. To explore these physical activity experiences, we visited six community settings in one English county and conducted informal interviews with 18 people who were either living with dementia and community dwelling (n = 4), caring for or who had cared for someone with dementia (n = 10), or providing a support service for people living with dementia and their carers (n = 4). Findings highlight both the challenges and facilitators presented by organized groups, service provider skills and qualities, and environmental factors. Additionally, these factors were influential in shaping the physical activity experience of people living with dementia. The findings may be relevant for people providing or planning support services, commissioners, policymakers, and researchers.

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Active Learning Through Video Conferencing to Maintain Physical Activity Among Older Adults: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Kazuki Uemura, Tsukasa Kamitani, Atsuya Watanabe, Hiroshi Okamoto, Kenshi Saho, and Minoru Yamada

This randomized pilot trial investigated the feasibility of an active learning physical activity intervention through video conferencing and its preliminary effects. Participants comprised community-dwelling older adults who could use e-mail. The intervention group underwent a 12-week active learning intervention via video conferencing to promote a healthy lifestyle, particularly physical activity. The control group received information via e-mail once per week. The amount of physical activity and sedentary behavior was measured using an accelerometer at baseline, postintervention, and 24-week postintervention (36 weeks). Of the 31 participants, 29 were eligible and randomized into two groups (15 for the intervention and 14 for the control). Adherence to the intervention was 83%–100% (mean, 97%). Compared with the control group, the intervention group showed moderate maintenance effects on total physical activity and sedentary behavior at 36 weeks. Active learning physical activity intervention through video conferencing was found to be feasible and contributed to the prevention of physical activity decline in older adults.

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Volume 32 (2024): Issue 3 (Jun 2024)

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Assessing Physical Therapists’ Outdoor Walking Recommendations and Neighborhood Walkability for Older Adults

Hannah A. Karczewski and Jennifer Blackwood

Background/Objectives: Neighborhood walkability is the extent to which built and social environments support walking. Walkability influences older adults’ participation in outdoor physical activity. Identifying factors that influence physical therapists’ (PTs) decisions about prescribing outdoor walking is needed, especially for those who are aging in place. The purpose of this study is to describe the neighborhood walkability knowledge, perceptions, and assessment practices of PTs who work with community-dwelling older adults. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was sent via email to 5,000 PTs nationwide. The 40-item survey assessed walking prescriptions, walkability perceptions and assessments, and gathered demographic data. Categorical variables were compared using Chi-square analyses. Results: Using a total of 122 PTs who worked in outpatient geriatric physical therapy settings, a significant difference was found between perceptions of whether PTs should assess walkability and whether they actually assess walkability (χ2 = 78.7, p < .001). Decisions to prescribe outdoor walking were influenced by the availability (n = 79, 64.8%) and maintenance (n = 11, 9.0%) of sidewalks, crime (n = 9, 7.4%), terrain (n = 7, 5.7%), and aesthetics (n = 6, 4.9%). Objective walkability measures were not used by the respondents. Conclusion: When considering the assessment of walkability, PTs prioritize the built environment over the social environment. Although most believe it is the responsibility of the PT to assess walkability, most do not. Significance/Implications: Assessment of walkability may allow PTs to identify barriers and make more informed recommendations concerning outdoor walking for older adults. Objective measures are available for PTs when prescribing outdoor walking.

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Synchronous Group-Based Online Exercise Programs for Older Adults Living in the Community: A Scoping Review

Maria Fernanda Fuentes Diaz, Brianna Leadbetter, Vanessa Pitre, Sarah Nowell, Martin Sénéchal, and Danielle R. Bouchard

Older adults are the least physically active group with specific barriers to regular exercise, and online exercise programs could overcome some of those barriers. This scoping review aimed to describe the characteristics of supervised group-based synchronous online exercise programs for older adults living in the community, their feasibility, acceptability, and potential benefits. MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase, SPORTDiscus, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature were searched until November 2022. The included studies met the following criteria: participants aged 50 years and above, a minimum of a 6-week group-based supervised and synchronous intervention, and original articles available in English. Eighteen articles were included, with 1,178 participants (67% female, average age of 71 [57–93] years), most (83%) published in the past 3 years. From the limited reported studies, delivering supervised, synchronous online exercise programs (one to three times/week, between 8 and 32 weeks) for older adults living in the community seems feasible, accepted, and can improve physical function.

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Effect of Protein Supplementation Combined With Resistance Training in Gait Speed in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Juan Li, Yahai Wang, Fang Liu, and Yu Miao

Background: We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the combination of protein supplementation and resistance training (RT), compared with RT alone or combined with a placebo, in improving gait speed. Methods: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and SPORTDiscus databases, and 18 randomized controlled trials with 1,147 older participants were included for meta-analysis. Data were pooled as the effect sizes (Hedges’ g) with 95% confidence interval (CI) of the gait speed (in meters per second). The random-effect meta-analysis, subgroup analyses, meta-regression, and sensitivity analysis were conducted. Results: The combination of protein supplementation and RT significantly improved gait speed (Hedges’ g: 0.52 m/s, 95% confidence interval [0.17, 0.86], p = .005; I 2  = 86.5%) compared with the RT alone. The subgroup analyses revealed that the significant improvement in gait speed postprotein intervention plus RT was observed only in participants who consumed protein after RT (Hedges’ g: 0.90 m/s, 95% confidence interval [0.46, 1.33], p = .001; I 2  = 79.6%). The pooled result did not significantly change after excluding any single study at one time or excluding smaller studies with large effect sizes. Conclusions: Protein supplementation combined with RT could significantly improve the gait speed of older adults compared with RT alone. This positive effect is more pronounced in people who consume protein after RT.