The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Pilot (LIFE-P): 2-year follow-up

W Jack Rejeski, Anthony P Marsh, Elizabeth Chmelo, Abbie J Prescott, Meredith Dobrosielski, Michael P Walkup, Mark Espeland, Michael E Miller, Stephen Kritchevsky
Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 2009, 64 (4): 462-7

BACKGROUND: It is well recognized that physical activity (PA) is important for older adults; yet, clinicians remain pessimistic about the ability of older adults with compromised function to adhere to long-term treatment and to maintain behavior change once treatment has been terminated.

METHODS: We examined the functional status of older adults at a field center (Wake Forest University) 2 years after completing 12 months of treatment in the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Pilot study. At baseline, participants were randomized to either a PA or a successful aging (SA) control group. Outcome measures included an interview assessment of PA, the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), and performance on a 400-m self-paced walking test.

RESULTS: Two years after the formal intervention had ended, participants who were originally in the PA group continued to engage in more minutes of moderate PA and tended to have better SPPB and walking speed than those in the SA group (effect sizes [ES]: SPPB = 0.40, walking speed = 0.37). Seven (12.7%) participants in the PA group failed the 400-m walk at the 36-month follow-up assessment, whereas this number was 11 (21.6%) in the SA group.

CONCLUSION: Older adults who have compromised physical function are able to sustain some of the benefits derived from participating in structured PA 2 years after supervised treatment has been terminated.

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