Title: Evaluating the long-term effectiveness of three physical activity programs among older adults
Authors: Van Hoecke, Ann-Sophie ×
Delecluse, Christophe
Bogaerts, An
Boen, Filip #
Issue Date: 5-Jul-2012
Conference: Conference ECSS edition:17 location:Bruges date:4-7 July 2012
Abstract: Introduction
Despite the well-known benefits of physical activity, there is a lack of consensus on the most appropriate counseling format to assist older adults in pursuing and maintaining a physically active lifestyle. This study evaluated the relative impact of an individualized need-supportive physical activity program, based on the self-determination theory2 (SDT), compared with less intensive counseling formats.

A total of 442 Flemish sedentary adults over the age of 60 were randomly assigned to three physical activity interventions: 1) an exercise promotion condition, consisting of a single advice session in which the coach clarified existing local opportunities; 2) a walking condition, consisting of a single advice session in which the coach additionally explained a prestructured individually-tailored walking program; and 3) an individualized need-supportive condition, consisting of additional regular contacts in which an individualized exercise plan was set up. Furthermore, the coach fostered the SDT-related psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness in order to increase autonomously motivated physical activity. Autonomous motivation as well as self-reported and objective physical activity were measured before (pre), after (post) and one year after the beginning of (follow-up) the ten-week intervention by means of the Behavioural Regulation Exercise Questionnaire4, the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire3 and pedometers (OMRON, Walking Style One) respectively. Perceived need-support was assessed at post-test by a modified version of the Teacher As Social Context Questionnaire1.

Linear mixed model analyses demonstrated an increase in self-reported physical activity post-intervention and in the long term in the three interventions. However, the walking and need-supportive program yield larger increases in Godin Leisure-Time Exercise compared with the exercise promotion.
Results on objective physical activity showed an increase in total number of daily steps from pre- to post-test in all conditions. However, the walking condition increased significantly more compared with the exercise promotion condition. Long-term analyses (i.e. from pre- to follow-up-test) did not demonstrate significant time by condition interaction effects with respect to daily number of steps. Nevertheless, the walking and need-supportive condition increased their daily number of steps, whereas no changes were found in the exercise promotion condition.
Bootstrapping analyses revealed that, irrespective of condition, higher levels of perceived need-support at post-test resulted in higher levels of physical activity at post- and follow-up-test. These effects were mediated by autonomous motivation at post- and follow-up-test respectively.

The findings demonstrate post-intervention as well as long-term effectiveness of three physical activity programs varying in counseling intensity among sedentary older adults. Providing or setting up a specific and individually-tailored physical activity plan seems to be more effective than referring older adults to wide-spread existing physical activity opportunities. Furthermore, the different patterns in self-reported and objective physical activity after the intervention need further consideration. Finally, the mediation effects imply the importance of self-determined motivation to perform a behavior in the short and the long term.

1. Belmont M, Skinner E, Wellborn J, Connell J (1988). Teacher as social context: A measure of student perceptions of teacher provision of involvement, structure and autonomy support (Tech. Rep. No. 102). University of Rochester.
2. Deci EL, Ryan RM (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. Plenum, New York, 1985.
3. Godin G, Shephard RJ (1985). A simple method to assess exercise behavior in the community. Can J Appl Sport Sci 10: 141–146.
4. Markland D, Tobin VJ (2004). A modification to the behavioural regulation in exercise questionnaire to include an assessment of amotivation. J Sport Exerc Psych 26: 191–196.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences - miscellaneous
Physical Activity, Sports & Health Research Group
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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