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Sara Wilcox and Abby C. King

Associations of life events and interpersonal loss with participation in home-and group-based exercise were studied in 97 older adults (64% women, 70.2 ± 4.1 years). Life events were assessed with a modified Social Readjustment Rating Scale at baseline and 6 and 12 months. Exercise logs and class-attendance records documented exercise participation. Participants experienced 3.62 ± 3.56 unique life events over the course of the study, and 28 participants reported an interpersonal loss (5 men, 23 women). Number of life events was negatively associated with home-based exercise participation (p < .05); among women, this association approached significance (p = .06) for class-based exercise. Women who experienced an interpersonal loss had lower class-based participation than those who did not (p = .02), but home-based participation rates were unaffected. Life events, particularly interpersonal loss, appear to have a negative impact on exercise in women, and this effect appears greater for class-based than for home-based exercise.

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Anne W. Garcia and Abby C. King

To enhance our understanding of exercise adherence, predictors of adherence based on social-cognitive theory were compared with those derived from a trait approach. A community-based sample of older, sedentary men and women was administered the Self-Motivation Inventory and a self-efficacy questionnaire. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three exercise regimens or to an assessment-only control condition for the following year. The subjects in the exercise conditions recorded each bout of exercise and rated the experience in terms of perceived exertion, enjoyment, and convenience (PEEC) on monthly logs. Based on social-cognitive theory, it was postulated that self-efficacy and certain aspects of the exercise bout itself, such as PEEC, would influence exercise adherence more than the general trait of self-motivation. Self-efficacy was significantly associated with exercise adherence at both 6 months and 1 year (rs = .42 and .44, respectively); self-motivation was not. Contrary to expectations, the PEEC components measured during the first 6 months did not make a significant contribution to the variance in adherence during the second 6 months.

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Deborah Rohm Young, Abby C. King and Roberta K. Oka

This investigation identified demographic and health-related characteristics of 1,877 sedentary, underactive, and regularly active individuals aged 50 to 65 randomly sampled from a northern California city. Physiological and psychosocial information was available in greater detail for a subsample (n = 327) of sedentary and underactive persons who were subsequently enrolled in a randomized, controlled, clinical trial (SSHIP). Results suggested that unmarried men, women reporting poor health, and smokers were most likely to be completely sedentary. Sedentary and underactive individuals responded differently to two recruitment strategies designed to attract participants into SSHIP. In addition, the initially sedentary participants had significantly lower adherence rates across the 1-year exercise trial compared to the initially underactive regardless of either the format or intensity of the program. These data underscore the utility of differentiating between levels of less-than-optimal physical activity in formulating campaigns promoting physical activity as well as designing exercise interventions.

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Lawrence Frank, Jacqueline Kerr, Dori Rosenberg and Abby King

Background:

Suburban development patterns may impede physical activity (PA) and mobility and affect healthy aging. This paper investigates the relationships between neighborhood design and walking, driving, PA, and obesity in adults over age 65 years.

Methods:

Data from the SMARTRAQ (Atlanta region) survey provided measures of PA, BMI, SES, and travel patterns. Neighborhood design was measured using a walkability index (residential density, street connectivity, retail density, and land use mix). Chi square and regression was used to evaluate relationships.

Results:

Increased walkability was related with more walking (OR 2.02), less time spent traveling in a car (OR .53), and lower odds of being overweight (OR .68). Those with 1 or no cars were more likely to walk (OR 2.9) and spend less time in cars (OR .53); but also less likely to get recommended levels of PA (OR .55). Visiting a fast food outlet was associated with increased odds of obesity (OR 1.81).

Conclusions:

Policies are needed to bring older Americans closer to shops and services and healthy food outlets as a means of encouraging regular walking and healthy body weight. Incentives to encourage neighborhood grocery stores and affordable housing in central areas along with regulatory reform through zoning can encourage PA and healthy body weight in the elderly.

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Peter G. Sepsis, Anita L. Stewart, Barbara McLellan, Kris Mill, Abby C. King and Wayne Shoumaker

This paper describes the support mechanisms of a 6-month program designed to increase the physical activity levels of older adults in congregate housing facilities and in the community at large. It also reports participant ratings of perceived helpfulness of the various mechanisms to determine the relative value of these mechanisms to enrollees attempting to change their behavior. In general, there was consistency with respect to the ratings of perceived helpfulness between those residing in the community and those from the congregate housing facilities. However, some differences were found. For example, those residing in the community generally rated the mechanisms as less helpful than did participants from congregate housing settings. Individualized attention was ranked among the most helpful features. Results should be useful to those who design and implement physical activity promotion programs for older adults.

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Kristin M. Mills, Anita L. Stewart, Peter G. Sepsis and Abby C. King

Most community-based physical activity interventions for older adults prescribe class-based activities that may not appeal to everyone. This paper describes physical activity format preferences in a sample of 98 older adults (mean age = 76 ± 8 years) enrolled in an exercise promotion program encouraging participation in class-based activities offered by the community; the study explores how these preferences are related to activity adoption and maintenance. Thirty-four percent of respondents preferred to exercise individually. 28% preferred to exercise in a group, and 39% had no preference. Those who preferred exercising individually were less likely to adopt a new class than those who preferred to exercise in a group and those who had no preference (p < .01). Programs taking into account individual preferences may be more successful than those offering specific formats.

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Sara Wilcox, Abby C. King, Glenn S. Brassington and David K. Ahn

Physical activity interventions are most effective when they are tailored to individual preferences. This study examined preferences for exercising on one’s own with some instruction vs. in a class in 1,820 middle-aged and 1,485 older adults. Overall, 69% of middle-aged and 67% of older adults preferred to exercise on their own with some instruction rather than in an exercise class. The study identified subgroups—5 of middle-aged and 6 of older adults—whose preferences for exercising on their own with some instruction ranged from 33–85%. Less educated women younger than 56, healthy women 65–71, and older men reporting higher stress levels were most likely to prefer classes. All other men and most women preferred exercising on their own. The identification of these subgroups enables us to tailor exercise recommendations to the preferences of middle-aged and older adults, with increased rates of physical activity adoption and maintenance a likely result.

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Dawn E. Gillis, Melanie D. Grossman, Barbara Y. McLellan, Abby C. King and Anita L. Stewart

As new multifaceted programs are developed to facilitate increased physical activity in older adults, it is increasingly important to understand how useful various program components are in achieving program goals. On concluding a community-based physical-activity-promotion program. 80 older adults (M = 74 years) completed a helpfulness survey of 12 different aspects of the program. and 20 also attended focus groups for evaluation purposes. Results indicated that personal attention from staff, an informational meeting, and telephone calls from staff were most helpful. Ratings were similar across gender, age, and income groups, as well as between those who had previously been sedentary and underactive. Compared with more educated participants, those with less education reported higher ratings for 8 of 12 program components. Results contribute to a small literature on older adults' perceptions of physical activity programs and might be useful in planning future physical activity and other health-promotion programs relying on similar components.

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Audie A. Atienza, Brian Oliveira, B.J. Fogg and Abby C. King

This pilot investigation used portable electronic diaries to assess the physical activity and other health behaviors of 20 adults age 50+ (mean age = 61 years). Study aims were to examine whether computerized cognitive-behavioral strategies could increase adherence to the assessments, the acceptability of electronic diaries to assess everyday health, and the relationship between computerized physical activity assessments with a standardized physical activity measure. Although approximately two thirds of participants had never used an electronic diary, results indicated that a large majority (83%) reported enjoying the use of the electronic diaries, and most (72%) reported enjoying answering all of the health questions. The cognitive-behavioral strategies employed did not enhance assessment adherence, but electronic-diary-based activity levels corresponded more strongly with the poststudy standardized activity measure than the baseline standardized measure, providing evidence of temporal convergence. Findings suggest that the use of portable electronic technology in physical activity assessment of middle-aged and older adults deserves further study.

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Paul A. Estabrooks, Elizabeth H. Fox, Shawna E. Doerksen, Michael H. Bradshaw and Abby C. King

The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of an on-site physical activity (PA) program offered with congregate meals. Study 1 surveyed meal-site users on their likelihood to participate. Study 2 used meal-site-manager interviews and site visits to determine organizational feasibility. Study 3, a controlled pilot study, randomized meal sites to a 12-week group-based social-cognitive (GBSC) intervention or a standard-care control. Studies 1 and 2 indicated that most meal-site users would participate in an on-site PA program, and meal sites had well-suited physical resources and strong organizational support for this type of program. In Study 3, GBSC participants increased their weekly PA over those in the control condition (p < .05, ES = .79). Results indicated that changes in task cohesion might have mediated intervention effectiveness. These studies demonstrate that a PA program offered in this venue is feasible, is effective in promoting PA, and could have a strong public health impact.