Journal of the American Geriatrics Society vol:59 issue:9 pages:1602-1611
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the long-term effects of a lifestyle intervention and a structured exercise intervention on physical fitness and cardiovascular risk factors in older adults.
DESIGN: Controlled trial with randomization between the intervention groups.
SETTING: Belgium, Vlaams-Brabant.
PARTICIPANTS: One hundred and eighty-six sedentary but healthy men and women aged 60 to 83.
INTERVENTIONS: Participants of the lifestyle intervention were stimulated to integrate physical activity in their daily routines and received an individualized home-based program supported by phone calls. The structured intervention consisted of three weekly supervised sessions in a fitness center. Both interventions lasted 11 months and focused on endurance, strength, flexibility, and postural/balance exercises.
MEASUREMENTS: Cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, functional performance, blood pressure and body composition were measured before the start of the interventions (pretest), at the end (11 months, posttest) and one year after the end (23 months, follow-up).
RESULTS: There was a decrease in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness and functional performance from posttest to follow-up in the structured intervention compared with the control group but a status quo in the lifestyle intervention. At 23 months participants in both groups still showed improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness. In addition, the structured group showed long-term improvements in muscular fitness, whereas the lifestyle group showed long-term improvements in functional performance. No long-term effects were found for blood pressure or body composition.
CONCLUSION: These results highlight the potential of both a structured center-based intervention and a home-based lifestyle intervention in the battle against inactivity in older adults. Lifestyle programs are especially valuable because they require less resources and less time from health institutions and health practitioners.