Physical activity programs and behavior counseling in older adult populations

M. Elaine Cress, David M. Buchner, Thomas Prohaska, James Rimmer, Marybeth Brown, Carol Macera, Loretta DePietro, Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical activity offers one of the greatest opportunities for people to extend years of active independent life and reduce functional limitations. The purpose of this paper is to identify key practices for promoting physical activity in older adults, with a focus on older adults with chronic disease or low fitness and those with low levels of physical activity. Key practices identified in promotion activity in older adults include: 1) A multidimensional activity program that includes endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility training is optimal for health and functional benefits; 2) Principles of behavior change, including: social support, self-efficacy, active choices, health contracts, assurances of safety, and positive reinforcement enhance adherence; 3) Management of risk by beginning at low intensity but gradually increasing to moderate physical activity, which has a better risk-to-benefit ratio and should be the goal for older adults; 4) An emergency procedure plan is prudent for community based programs; and 5) Monitoring aerobic intensity is important for progression and for motivation. Selected content review of physical activity programming from major organizations and institutions are provided. Regular participation in physical activity is one of the most effective ways for older adults, including those with disabilities, to help prevent chronic disease, promote independence, and increase quality of life in old age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1997-2003
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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