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Instructor Social Support in the Group Physical Activity Context: Older Participants’ Perspectives

Lindsay Morrison, Meghan H. McDonough, Chantelle Zimmer, Cari Din, Jennifer Hewson, Ann Toohey, Peter R.E. Crocker, and Erica V. Bennett

Instructors in organized physical activity classes can be a source of social support through their relationships with participants, influence on participants’ interactions with each other, and design of activities. Grounded in interpretive description, the objective of this study was to examine older adults’ experiences of and their perspectives on group physical activity instructors’ supportive behaviors. Observations of 16 group physical activity classes (N = 295) and focus groups or interviews with N = 38 class participants aged ≥ 55 (n = 29 women) were conducted at four municipal recreation facilities in a Canadian city. Five themes shed light on how instructors provided social support: (a) supporting autonomous engagement, (b) developing caring connections, (c) fostering trust through expert instruction, (d) managing conflict directly and effectively, and (e) creating a climate where people want to go. Instructor training should consider older adults’ social support needs and help instructors embody behaviors that support continued physical activity participation, thereby contributing to healthy aging.

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“Older, Faster, Stronger”: The Multiple Benefits of Masters Sport Participation

Sarah Deck, Alison Doherty, Craig Hall, Angela Schneider, Swarali Patil, and Glen Belfry

While masters sport aligns with the holistic concept of active aging, related research has focused predominantly on the physical domain, and less is known about the psychological, cognitive, and social benefits of older adults’ participation. This study examined, in combination, the perceived psychological, social, cognitive, and physical benefits of training and competing as a masters athlete, while considering age and gender differences. Forty masters athletes residing in Canada were interviewed (21 men and 19 women; 15 who were 50–64 years and 25 who were 65–79 years), representing 15 different sports. Interviews were coded both deductively and inductively, revealing several subthemes of benefits for the broader perceived psychological, social, cognitive, and physical benefits, with few but notable differences between women and men, and those younger than 65 years and those 65+ years. Our findings provide new insights into the positive experiences of active aging associated with high levels of physical activity among older adults, such as greater self-confidence, especially for women, comradery, and feeling mentally sharper, especially for the older age group.

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Efficacy of Dance Intervention for Improving Frailty Among Chinese Older Adults Living in the Community: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Xiaohong Zhang, Cees Peter van der Schans, Yanhui Liu, Wilhelmus Petrus Krijnen, and Johannes Simon Maria Hobbelen

Although dance interventions may have lots of advantages in improving frailty, there are few papers focusing on the effects such interventions have on frail older adults living in the community setting. This study investigates whether a dance intervention can improve the level of frailty among Chinese older adults living in the community setting. The dance intervention was done five times a week for 16 weeks. Participants in the control group maintained their normal daily activities. Assessments were conducted at baseline, 8 weeks, and 16 weeks. Mixed models were used to test for the effects on frailty, depression, short physical performance battery, and grip strength between the groups over time. The level of frailty (p < .05) and depression (p < .001) decreased, and short physical performance battery (p < .001) increased over time in the dance group compared with the control group. A dance intervention lasting 16 weeks showed improved frailty, depression, and physical performance among Chinese older adults living in the community setting.

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Navigating a New Normal: Perceptions and Experiences of an Online Exercise Program for Older Adults During COVID-19

Sarah C. Galway, Meghan H.D. Laird, Matthieu Dagenais, and Kimberley L. Gammage

Online exercise programming has surged in popularity; however, little is known about older adults’ perceptions and experiences of online exercise. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively examine older adults’ (aged 59–82 years) experiences and perceptions of an online exercise program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nineteen individuals (individuals who used the online exercise program and those who did not) completed a semistructured interview. Three main themes were generated from the data using reflexive thematic analysis: (a) can online exercise really work for older adults? (b) technology attitudes and experiences influence online participation, and (c) barriers and advantages of the online exercise program and the home environment. Most participants who took part were able to overcome initial barriers through technical support and experience. Our findings highlight ways to promote advantages and address barriers of online exercise for older adults and emphasize the importance of fostering social experiences and training online exercise instructors.

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Association Between Domain-Specific Physical Activity and Chronic Low Back Pain in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study

Michael Douglas da Silva Martins, Ítalo Ribeiro Lemes, Eleonora Esposito, Priscila Kalil Morelhão, Pedro Henrique Narciso, Márcia Rodrigues Franco, and Rafael Zambelli Pinto

To investigate the association between physical activity (PA) domains and chronic low back pain (LBP) in older adults. A cross-sectional study where sociodemographic, behavioral, and health variables; PA; and presence of chronic LBP were collected. Higher scores of PA defined the “more active” participants. Binary logistic regression was used to test the association between PA domains and chronic LBP. A total of 516 participants were included. The mean age was 71.8 (95% confidence interval, CI, [71.1, 72.5]) years, and 29%, 27%, 25%, and 31% were identified as “more active” in the household, sports, leisure-time, and total PA domains, respectively. “More active” participants in sports (odds ratio = 0.62, 95% CI [0.40, 0.97]), leisure-time (odds ratio = 0.54, 95% CI [0.35, 0.85]) and total (odds ratio = 0.60, 95% CI [0.39, 0.92]) PA domains were less likely to report chronic LBP. High levels of sports, leisure-time, and total PA were inversely associated with chronic LBP.

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Associations of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior With Survival Time in Older Adults: Path Analysis

Lucas Lima Galvão, Rizia Rocha Silva, Sheilla Tribess, Joilson Meneguci, Jeffer Eidi Sasaki, Douglas de Assis Teles Santos, and Jair Sindra Virtuoso Júnior

This study investigated the direct and indirect associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with survival time in older adults. Prospective population-based cohort study used exploratory survey-type methods and physical performance tests in 319 adults aged ≥60 years. Trajectory diagrams were used to represent the initial hypothetical and final models with the relationships of independent, mediating, and dependent variables. Physical activity was indirectly associated with survival time and was mediated by instrumental activities of daily living and functional performance. In contrast, instrumental activities of daily living, functional performance, the number of hospitalizations, and medications mediated the association between duration of sedentary behavior and survival time. The explanatory power of the final model was 19%. Future efforts should focus on increasing the participation and adherence of older adults to exercise programs to improve their physical functions and general health, which may increase their health period and, consequently, their survival time.

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Prevalence and Sociodemographic Correlates of Meeting the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines Among Low-Income Brazilian Older Adults With Chronic Diseases

Antonio Henrique Germano Soares, Andrea Wendt, Inácio Crochemore-Silva, Clarice Martins, Arthur Oliveira Barbosa, Mauro Virgílio Gomes de Barros, and Rafael M. Tassitano

This study examined the prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of meeting individual behavior and 24-hr movement behavior guidelines among Brazilian older adults with chronic diseases. The sample comprised 273 older adults aged ≥60 years (80.2% women) with chronic diseases from Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Sociodemographic variables were self-reported, while 24-hr movement behaviors were assessed by accelerometry. Participants were classified as meeting (or not meeting) individual and integrated recommendations for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), sedentary behavior, and sleep duration. No participant met the 24-hr movement behavior guidelines, while only 8.4% met integrated MVPA/sleep recommendations. The prevalence of meeting recommendations of MVPA, sedentary behavior, and sleep was 28.9%, 0.4%, and 32.6%, respectively. Discrepancies according to sociodemographic variables on meeting MVPA recommendations existed. The findings show the need for dissemination and implementation strategies to foster adoption of the 24-hr movement behavior guidelines among Brazilian older adults with chronic diseases.

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Social Support for Physical Activity Over 9 Years in Adults Aged 60–65 Years at Baseline

Genevieve S.E. Smith, Robert S. Ware, Wendy Moyle, and Nicola W. Burton

Physical activity is a leading determinant of health and well-being in older adults; however, participation is low. Social support can significantly influence physical activity uptake and maintenance; however, most research is cross-sectional and does not differentiate among types of support. The current study assessed four types of social support for physical activity reported over 9 years by adults aged 60–65 at baseline (n = 1,984). Data were collected using a mail survey at four time points. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models. The most common type of support was emotional, with 25% of participants reporting this often/very often. Total support for activity declined by 16% across the 9 years (p < .001). Companionship had the greatest decline among types (17%–18%, p < .001). More work is needed to understand the factors contributing to the decline in support and how to enable access to support for physical activity in older adults.

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Variable Cadence Gait Training Outcomes Using Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation Embedded in Older Adults’ Preferred Music

Cathy A. Larson, Edward A. Roth, Alycia J. Sterenberg Mahon, Michael Crinion, Kelsey Fischer, Sun Hye Yim, and Amy K. Smith

Older adults must have the ability to walk at variable speeds/distances to meet community demands. This single group pre–post test study’s purposes were to examine if actual cadences after 7 weeks of rhythmic auditory stimulation gait training matched target cadences, improved walking distance, duration, velocity, maximum cadence, balance, enjoyment, and/or changed spatial/temporal gait parameters. Fourteen female adults (72.6 ± 4.4 years) participated in 14 sessions, while variable cadences were progressively introduced. Eleven older adult responders walked faster (3.8 steps/min) than one target cadence (−10% pace) while matching the target cadences for the other paces when walking with rhythmic auditory stimulation. Two nonresponders walked near their baseline cadence with little variability while one walked at faster cadences; all three did not appear to adjust to the beat of the music. After training, participants increased their walking distance, 90.8 ± 46.5 m; t(1, 13) = −7.3; p ≤ .005, velocity, 0.36 ± 0.15 m/s; t(1, 40) = −15.4; p < .001, and maximum cadence, 20.6 ± 9.1 steps/min; t(1, 40) = −14.6; p < .001; changes exceeded minimal clinically important differences. Twelve of 14 expressed enjoyment. Walk with rhythmic auditory stimulation training is a promising activity for older adults, which may translate to an individual’s ability to adapt walking speeds to various community demands.

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Introduction From the New Editors

Lindsay S. Nagamatsu and Patricia C. Heyn