Translational Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 208-215

First online:

Sustainability of evidence-based community-based physical activity programs for older adults: lessons from Active for Life

  • Paul A EstabrooksAffiliated withDepartment of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Translational Obesity Research Program, Virginia Tech Email author 
  • , Renae L Smith-RayAffiliated withInstitute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • , David A DzewaltowskiAffiliated withDepartment of Kinesiology, Kansas State University
  • , Diane DowdyAffiliated withSchool of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M University System
  • , Diana LattimoreAffiliated withExercise and Sport Science, University of San Francisco
  • , Carol RheaumeAffiliated withArnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina
  • , Marcia G OryAffiliated withSchool of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M University System
  • , Terry BazzarreAffiliated withRobert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • , Sarah F GriffinAffiliated withPublic Health Sciences, Clemson University
    • , Sara WilcoxAffiliated withArnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina

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Program sustainability in community and healthcare settings is critical to realizing the translation of research into practice. The purpose of this study is to describe the implementation and assessment of an intervention to increase organizational maintenance of evidence-based physical activity programs and the factors that impede or facilitate sustainability. All organizations implemented a sustainability action plan that included identifying factors related to sustainability, examining resources available, identifying program modifications to enhance sustainability, and long-term action planning. A mixed methods approach was used. Organizational (n = 12 sites) ability to demonstrate program effectiveness, align priorities with the organizational mission, and integrate the program within the existing infrastructure were strengths related to sustainability. Sites were more optimistic about program sustainability when they had less reliance on internal financial, but more reliance on internal human resources to run the program post-funding. The study resulted in a number of tools that can help community organizations plan for sustainability of physical activity programs.


Physical activity Older adults Evidence-based programs Sustainability Translational research