According to a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “community-based physical activity interventions
designed to promote more active lifestyles among adults are cost-effective in reducing heart disease, stroke, colorectal and breast cancers, and type 2 diabetes.” One such
intervention sought to prove this statement. Published in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health (2009; doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.131466), the study set out to determine whether a community-based physical activity program would incite regular participation and elicit health benefits in older adults. The research included 544 participants with an average age of 66 years who were tested on lower- and upper-body strength as well as cardiovascular endurance. Subjects were then given access to three community “best-practice programs” for 10 months.

Upon study completion, no significant improvements in body weight or general health were noted; however, physical activity frequency increased by 26%. Improvements were found in upper- and lower-body strength, which study authors believed could be instrumental in helping participants reduce injury risk potential. “Best-practice community-based physical activity programs can measurably improve aspects of functioning that are risk factors for disability among older adults,” added the study authors. But for cash-strapped adults, continued participation may become a financial burden—in which case the authors suggested, “U.S. public policy should encourage these inexpensive health promotion programs.”

Do you have a viable and inexpensive program that entices the older-adult population? We’d love to hear about it. E-mail rhalvorson to share your story.