Academic journal article Research and Theory for Nursing Practice

Physical Activity Interventions among Older Adults: A Literature Review

Academic journal article Research and Theory for Nursing Practice

Physical Activity Interventions among Older Adults: A Literature Review

Article excerpt

Physical activity (PA) is important in the management of chronic illness among older adults worldwide. Researchers have conducted several intervention studies to increase PA behavior in this population. This review of the past 12 years of relevant PA intervention research among adults aged 60 years and older systematically summarized research findings, identified characteristics of successful interventions, and proposed areas of future research. There were 20 studies reviewed for this article, most employing a combination of cognitive-behavioral intervention design. Cognitivebased only and combination interventions were more successful in changing PA behavior; however, behavioral-based interventions demonstrated more long-term changes in PA behavior. Among theory-based interventions, self-efficacy was the most commonly operationalized construct. Findings from this review may inform future primary research to promote PA behavior among older adults, as well as gerontological clinical practice.

Keywords: physical activity; chronic illness; older adults; interventions; review

Physical activity (PA) is an important component of healthy aging. The population of adults aged 60 years and older is growing, as well as the incidence of chronic diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, within this population (Administration on Aging, 2009; American Hospital Association, 2007). PA has been shown to attenuate symptoms and poor outcomes of these chronic conditions; therefore, it is a useful component of self-management (Chodzko-Zajko et al., 2009; Taylor et al., 2004). Nevertheless, despite statements from the American Academy of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association, and Department of Health and Human Services' Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, only 28% to 34% of adults aged 65 years and older participate in any leisure time PA (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Center for Disease Control, 2002; Chodzko-Zajko et al., 2009; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008).

Prior reviews of interventions to increase PA among older adults support the efficacy of such interventions on PA behavior change in this population (Conn, Valentine, & Cooper, 2002; Cyarto, Moorhead, & Brown, 2004; King, 2001; van der Bij, Laurant, & Wensing, 2002). However, gaps in the PA intervention literature remain. Successes gained from interventions to increase PA are short lived, suggesting that we do not yet know what types of interventions contribute to longterm PA behavior change (van der Bij et al., 2002). Moreover, the characteristics of intervention dose, delivery, and content necessary for successful PA behavior change still remain unclear (King, 2001).

An updated synthesis of the literature is needed to capture the most current information available to address these gaps in research knowledge. Many of the most recent reviews of interventions to increase PA behavior among older adults did not include data from studies covering the past 12 years of PA intervention research (Conn, Minor, Burks, Rantz, & Pomeroy, 2003; Conn et al., 2002; Cyarto et al., 2004; van der Bij et al., 2002). In fact, the latest studies included in the most recent meta-analysis of PA intervention research among aging adults were from 1999 (Conn et al., 2002). In addition, other prior reviews examined studies whose samples were younger than 60 years, without providing disaggregated findings for older participants (Conn, Hafdahl, Brown, & Brown, 2008; Conn et al., 2002; Foster, Hillsdon, & Thorogood, 2005). A systematic, descriptive synthesis of the past 12 years of PA intervention research among adults aged 60 years and older will further research knowledge related to intervention effectiveness by identifying current and successful intervention characteristics, to inform and guide future PA intervention studies and clinical practice among the rapidly growing population of older adults. …

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