A randomized controlled clinical trial of the seattle protocol for activity in older adults

Linda Teri, Susan M. McCurry, Rebecca G. Logsdon, Laura E. Gibbons, David M. Buchner, Eric B. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To compare the efficacy of a physical activity program (Seattle Protocol for Activity (SPA)) for low-exercising older adults with that of an educational health promotion program (HP), combination treatment (SPA+HP), and routine medical care control conditions (RMC). DESIGN: Single-blind, randomized controlled trial with two-by-two factorial design. SETTING: Community centers in King County, Washington, from November 2001 to September 2004. PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred seventy-three community-residing, cognitively intact older adults (mean age 79.2; 62% women). INTERVENTIONS: SPA (in-class exercises with assistance setting weekly home exercise goals) and HP (information about age-appropriate topics relevant to enhancing health), with randomization to four conditions: SPA only (n=69), HP only (n=73), SPA+HP (n=67), and RMC control (n=64). Active-treatment participants attended nine group classes over 3 months followed by five booster sessions over 1 year. MEASUREMENTS: Self-rated health (Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Survey) and depression (Geriatric Depression Scale). Secondary ratings of physical performance, treatment adherence, and self-rated health and affective function were also collected. RESULTS: At 3 months, participants in SPA exercised more and had significantly better self-reported health, strength, and general well-being (P<.05) than participants in HP or RMC. Over 18 months, SPA participants maintained health and physical function benefits and had continued to exercise more than non-SPA participants. SPA+HP was not significantly better than SPA alone. Better adherence was associated with better outcomes. CONCLUSION: Older adults participating in low levels of regular exercise can establish and maintain a home-based exercise program that yields immediate and long-term physical and affective benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1188-1196
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • exercise
  • health promotion
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'A randomized controlled clinical trial of the seattle protocol for activity in older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this