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Susan Williams, Claudia Meyer, Frances Batchelor and Keith Hill

The objective of this study was to determine whether improved balance outcomes achieved in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) using balance screening to identify mild balance dysfunction and home exercises could be translated into community settings. Community-dwelling people aged over 65 who expressed concerns about their balance, had less than two falls in the preceding 12 months, and who had mild balance impairment on screening were given an individualized home-based balance and strengthening exercise program with intermittent home-visit support by a physiotherapist. Of 71 participants assessed (mean age 77.3 years, 76% female), 58 (82%) completed the six-month intervention. Twenty six percent of participants regained balance performance within normal limits—similar to those achieved in the previous RCT. Successful results from a previous RCT were able to be translated into community settings, with a similar magnitude of effect on balance and mobility.

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Kathleen T. Rhyner and Amber Watts

Depressive symptoms are common in older adults, but antidepressant medications may be contraindicated or poorly tolerated in this population. Intervention studies demonstrate that exercise may be an effective alternative. This meta-analysis included 41 randomized controlled trials of aerobic and nonaerobic exercise interventions investigating the effect of exercise on depressive symptoms in adults aged 60 or older. A random effects model demonstrated that exercise was associated with significantly lower depression severity (SMD = 0.57, 95% CI 0.36–0.78). This effect was not significantly different for different ages of participants, types of control groups, or types of exercise interventions. Studies requiring a diagnosis of depression had significantly greater mean effect sizes than studies that did not require a depression diagnosis (Qbet = 6.843, df = 1, p = .009). These findings suggest that exercise is an effective treatment option for older individuals with depressive symptoms.

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Fuzhong Li, Edward McAuley, Peter Harmer, Terry E. Duncan and Nigel R. Chaumeton

The article describes a randomized, controlled trial conducted to examine the effects of a Tai Chi intervention program on perceptions of personal efficacy and exercise behavior in older adults. The sample comprised 94 low-active, healthy participants (mean age = 72.8 years. SD = 5.1) randomly assigned to either an experimental (Tai Chi) group or a wait-list control group. The study length was 6 months, with self-efficacy responses (barrier, performance efficacies) assessed at baseline, at Week 12, and at termination (Week 24) of the study. Exercise attendance was recorded as an outcome measure of exercise behavior. Random-effects models revealed that participants in the experimental group experienced significant improvements in self-efficacy over the course of the intervention. Subsequent repeated-measures ANOVA revealed that participants’ changes in efficacy were associated with higher levels of program attendance. The findings suggest that self-efficacy can be enhanced through Tai Chi and that the changes in self-efficacy are likely to improve exercise adherence.

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Marijke Hopman-Rock and Marja H. Westhoff

Edited by Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko

The Aging Well and Healthily (AWH) program consists of health education by peers and low-intensity exercise. It was evaluated via a small randomized controlled trial and a community intervention trial involving older adults in the Netherlands. Reasons stated for participation were to exercise (35%), to acquire information about health (28%), and for social reasons (12%). The program was rated 8.2 on a 10-point scale. Twenty-five percent of participants joined exercise groups after the program ended, and 28% intended to do so. The mean physical activity score improved from 2.6 to 4.6 at follow-up (F = 16.9, p = .00) and was for the least active participants significantly different from that of the control group (F = 22.9, p = .02). Four to 6 months later, 60% of respondents reported still doing the exercises regularly at home. It is concluded that AWH is a potentially effective program for older adults.

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Erwin C.P.M. Tak, Jannique G.Z. van Uffelen, Mai J.M. Chin A Paw, Willem van Mechelen and Marijke Hopman-Rock

After a randomized controlled trial showing that improvement on some aspects of cognitive function was related to adherence to an exercise program, determinants of adherence and maintenance were further studied. Older adults with mild cognitive impairment were contacted 6 mo after the end of exercise programs for a telephone interview addressing patterns of adherence and determinants of maintenance. Mean adherence during the trial was 53%. About one third of participants had lapses during the trial but completed, one third had no lapses, and one third dropped out or never started. Practical barriers (time, location) were related to not starting and functional limitations to dropout. After the trial 25% of participants continued the programs, 14% reported intention to continue, and 61% quit. Maintenance was determined by fewer health complaints, higher satisfaction with the programs, and better adherence during the programs. Although maintenance was low, this study identified several reasons and barriers to adherence and maintenance that could be addressed.

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Katherine M. White, Deborah J. Terry, Carolyn Troup, Lynn A. Rempel, Paul Norman, Kerry Mummery, Malcolm Riley, Natasha Posner and Justin Kenardy

A randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of a 4-wk extended theory of planned behavior (TPB) intervention to promote regular physical activity and healthy eating among older adults diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease (N = 183). Participants completed TPB measures of attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control, and intention, as well as planning and behavior, at preintervention and 1 wk and 6 wk postintervention for each behavior. No significant time-by-condition effects emerged for healthy eating. For physical activity, significant time-by-condition effects were found for behavior, intention, planning, perceived behavioral control, and subjective norm. In particular, compared with control participants, the intervention group showed short-term improvements in physical activity and planning, with further analyses indicating that the effect of the intervention on behavior was mediated by planning. The results indicate that TPB-based interventions including planning strategies may encourage physical activity among older people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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Dennis Hamacher, Daniel Hamacher, Kathrin Rehfeld, Anita Hökelmann and Lutz Schega

Dancing is a complex sensorimotor activity involving physical and mental elements which have positive effects on cognitive functions and motor control. The present randomized controlled trial aims to analyze the effects of a dancing program on the performance on a motorcognitive dual task. Data of 35 older adults, who were assigned to a dancing group or a health-related exercise group, are presented in the study. In pretest and posttest, we assessed cognitive performance and variability of minimum foot clearance, stride time, and stride length while walking. Regarding the cognitive performance and the stride-to-stride variability of minimum foot clearance, interaction effects have been found, indicating that dancing lowers gait variability to a higher extent than conventional health-related exercise. The data show that dancing improves minimum foot clearance variability and cognitive performance in a dual-task situation. Multi-task exercises (like dancing) might be a powerful tool to improve motor-cognitive dual-task performance.

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Margie E. Lachman, Shevaun D. Neupert, Rosanna Bertrand and Alan M. Jette

The authors examined whether resistance training has an effect on working memory span. Participants included 210 community-residing older adults with at least one disability from the Strong for Life program, a randomized controlled trial that examined the effects of home-based resistance exercise. Memory was assessed with the WAIS backward digit span at baseline and 3 and 6 months into the intervention. Although there were no differences between the experimental treatment and control groups in average levels of memory change, within the treatment group change in resistance level during the intervention was a significant predictor of memory change, controlling for age, education, sex, and disability level. The results suggest that strength training can benefit memory among older adults, especially when using higher resistance levels.

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Seung-Youn Hong, Susan Hughes and Thomas Prohaska

Background:

Many different constructs are used currently in the literature to assess exercise adherence. This study examined whether the same or different variables predict exercise attendance and exercise completion among sedentary older adults.

Methods:

Thirty-seven randomized control trials were selected from articles published between 1980 and 2000 that tested exercise interventions for sedentary older adults. Block-entry, weighted, hierarchical meta-regression analyses were conducted.

Results:

Different factors predicted attendance and completion. Group-based (P < .05) and resistance exercise (P < .1) predicted higher attendance rates than individual-based and aerobic exercise. In contrast, facility-based exercise was associated with higher completion rates than home-based exercise (P < .1).

Conclusions:

Results show that completing a program is not synonymous with good attendance. Program designers need to consider different strategies to boost both of these rates that need to be maximized to best benefit program participants.

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Kathleen Benjamin, Nancy Edwards, Jenny Ploeg and Frances Legault

Despite the benefits of physical activity, residents living in long-term care (LTC) are relatively sedentary. Designing successful physical activity and restorative care programs requires a good understanding of implementation barriers. A database search (2002–2013) yielded seven studies (nine articles) that met our inclusion criteria. We also reviewed 31 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to determine if the authors explicitly discussed the barriers encountered while implementing their interventions. Eleven RCTs (13 articles) included a discussion of the barriers. Hence, a total of 18 studies (22 articles) were included in this review. Barriers occurred at resident (e.g., health status), environmental (e.g., lack of space for physical activity), and organizational (e.g., staffing and funding constraints) levels. These barriers intersect to adversely affect the physical activity of older people living in LTC. Future studies targeting physical activity interventions for residents living in LTC are needed to address these multiple levels of influence.