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Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx and Jack M. Guralnik

This study aimed to ascertain perceived barriers and motivators to exercise in people age 74–85 and to clarify the meaning of these barriers and motivators by examining participant characteristics that relate to them. 324 community-dwelling participants age 74–85 completed a health questionnaire that included items on barriers and motivators to exercise, as well as questions on demographic variables, health, and exercise. Selected participants then completed a physical-performance battery to measure functional performance. Barriers and motivators were related internally, as well as to many other factors including pain and depressed affect on the Geriatric Depression Scale. The findings suggest a need for individualized and comprehensive approaches to the presentation of exercise programs. Health interventions are needed that will address both physical pain and depressed affect and explain the importance of exercise even in the presence of health problems. An understanding of the context of reported barriers and motivators is necessary for correct interpretation and program development.

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Marcia S. Marx, Jiska Cohen-Mansfield and Jack M. Guralnik

The article describes the process of identifying 100 community-dwelling elderly adults at risk for physical disability, yet not functionally disabled, for participation in a research project to develop appropriate exercise programs for at-risk elderly. Over a period of 14 months, initial contact was made with 941 older adults, 11% of whom (101 people) were eligible for and willing to complete all stages of the study protocol. The most successful recruitment strategies were a mass mailing followed by a telephone call and advertising in a newspaper with a large circulation (rather than a local paper). Aspects of the recruitment and retention of study participants are discussed.

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Jack M. Guralnik, Suzanne Leveille, Stefano Volpato, Marcia S. Marx and Jiska Cohen-Mansfield

Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that, using objective performance measures of physical functioning, disability risk can be predicted in nondisabled older adults. This makes it possible to recruit a nondisabled but at-risk population for clinical trials of disability prevention. Successful disability prevention in this population, for example through an exercise program, would have a major public health impact. To enhance the development of exercise interventions in this group it would be valuable to have additional information not available from existing epidemiologic studies. This report examines the evidence that functional limitations preceding disability can be identified in a community-dwelling population and that it is feasible to recruit these people into studies. It introduces a series of articles examining the characteristics of this population: motivators and barriers to exercise, exercise habits and preferences, the impact of positive and negative affect, and the impact of pain and functional limitations on attitudes toward exercise.