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Sarah J. Parker, Scott J. Strath and Ann M. Swartz

This study examined the relationship between physical activity (PA) and mental health among older adults as measured by objective and subjective PA-assessment instruments. Pedometers (PED), accelerometers (ACC), and the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) were administered to measure 1 week of PA among 84 adults age 55–87 (mean = 71) years. General mental health was measured using the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) and the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWL). Linear regressions revealed that PA estimated by PED significantly predicted 18.1%, 8.3%, and 12.3% of variance in SWL and positive and negative affect, respectively, whereas PA estimated by the PASE did not predict any mental health variables. Results from ACC data were mixed. Hotelling–William tests between correlation coefficients revealed that the relationship between PED and SWL was significantly stronger than the relationship between PASE and SWL. Relationships between PA and mental health might depend on the PA measure used.

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Ann M. Swartz, Scott J. Strath, Sarah J. Parker and Nora E. Miller

The purpose of this study was to investigate the combined impact of obesity and physical activity (PA) on the health of older adults. Pedometer-determined steps/d, body-mass index (BMI), resting blood pressure, and fasting glucose (FG) were assessed in 137 older adults (69.0 ± 8.9 yr). The active group (>4,227 steps/d) had lower systolic blood pressure (SBP; p = .001), diastolic blood pressure (DBP; p = .028), and FG (p < .001) than the inactive group (≤4,227 steps/d). The normal-BMI group (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) had lower SBP (p < .001) and DBP (p = .01) than the obese group (≤30 kg/m2). There were no differences in SBP (p = .963) or DBP (p = 1.0) between active obese and inactive normal-BMI groups. The active obese group, however, had a more favorable FG than the inactive normal-BMI group (χ2 = 18.9, df = 3, p = .001). Efforts to increase PA of older adults should receive the same priority as reducing obesity to improve BP and FG levels.

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Scott J. Strath, Ann M. Swartz, Sarah J. Parker, Nora E. Miller, Elizabeth K. Grimm and Susan E. Cashin

Background:

Increasing physical activity (PA) levels in older adults represents an important public health challenge. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of combining individualized motivational messaging with pedometer walking step targets to increase PA in previously inactive and insufficiently active older adults.

Methods:

In this 12-week intervention study older adults were randomized to 1 of 4 study arms: Group 1—control; Group 2—pedometer 10,000 step goal; Group 3—pedometer step goal plus individualized motivational feedback; or Group 4—everything in Group 3 augmented with biweekly telephone feedback.

Results:

81 participants were randomized into the study, 61 participants completed the study with an average age of 63.8 ± 6.0 years. Group 1 did not differ in accumulated steps/day following the 12-week intervention compared with participants in Group 2. Participants in Groups 3 and 4 took on average 2159 (P < .001) and 2488 (P < .001) more steps/day, respectively, than those in Group 1 after the 12-week intervention.

Conclusion:

In this 12-week pilot randomized control trial, a pedometer feedback intervention partnered with individually matched motivational messaging was an effective intervention strategy to significantly increase PA behavior in previously inactive and insufficiently active older adults.