Community-Based Physical Activity Promotes Health
The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial showed that older adults who follow a structured physical activity program can reduce mobility-disability by up to 28 percent. Based on these encouraging results, a pilot study was recently conducted by Tufts University to test the approach among older adults in an existing community setting. The Enhancing Independence using Group-based Community Interventions for Healthy Aging in Elders (ENGAGE) pilot study was conducted over a 24-week period at a community-based senior center. Forty participants were randomized to attend either a weekly physical activity (PA) group or a health education group. The PA group participated in walking and ankle weight exercises for strength, flexibility, and balance. The trial, published in the Journals of Gerontology, found those in the PA group had trends toward improved depressive symptoms and quality of life, as well as a statistically significant increase in executive cognitive function. Overall, the ENGAGE trial suggested the preliminary safety, effectiveness, and feasibility of a PA program in a community-based setting for older adults.