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Functional Health: Innovations in Research on Physical Activity with Older Adults


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 1 - p 93-99
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000183191.65316.0a
Symposium: Functional Health: Innovations in Research on Physical Activity in Older Adults

Purpose: This symposium was structured to provide two keynote addresses and recent innovations on the topic of physical activity interventions.

Overview: In the first paper, Drs. W. Jack Rejeski and Lawrence R. Brawley combine the content of their two keynotes into a single integrative review. This paper is then followed by four studies that build on and extend the research reviewed in their keynotes. The first is a study that examines the measurement properties of a scale designed to assess older adults' desire for physical competence. The second is an experiment that tests the efficacy of a brief intervention for increasing older adults' motives to attend educational sessions on physical activity in the context of assisted living. The third involves a pilot study in older adults that explores the feasibility and efficacy of using a group-mediated intervention for psychological empowerment in conjunction with more traditional methods of strength training. The fourth examines an innovative intervention that was designed to link the abilities acquired during strength training to older adults' performance of activities of daily living.

Conclusions: Physical activity interventions should be designed to promote collaborative relationships between interventionists and participants. Older adults bring with them symptoms, emotions, motives, and beliefs that are as important to adherence and to the outcomes of interventions as the physical training regimen itself. Furthermore, from the perspective of both behavior change and physical training, the design of physical activity programs for older adults should pay close attention to intended objectives.

1Department of Health, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC; and 2Department of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, CANADA

Address for correspondence: Dr. W. Jack Rejeski, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27109; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2004.

Accepted for publication July 2005.

Support for this paper was provided by National Institute on Aging Grant AG14131 and 5P60 AG10484 and General Clinical Research Center Grant M01-RR00211.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine