, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 155-165

The California active aging community grant program: Translating science Into practice to promote physical activity in older adults

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Background: Attempts to study the translation of evidence-based physical activity interventions in community settings are scarce.Purpose: This project was an investigation of whether 13 diverse local lead agencies could effectively implement a choice-based, telephone-assisted physical activity promotion program for older adults based on intervention models proven efficacious in research settings.Methods: At baseline, participants developed their own physical activity programs through an individualized planning session based on preference, health status, readiness to change, and available community resources. Thereafter, participants received regular telephone calls over a 1-year period from a trained staff member or volunteer support buddy. Additional program components consisted of health education workshops, newsletters, and group-based physical activities. Self-report data on caloric expenditure due to all and moderate or greater intensity physical activities were collected from 447 participants (M age = 68 ± 8.6 years).Results: A significant increase (p ≤ .0001) from baseline to midintervention and intervention endpoint was observed for total weekly caloric expenditure (Mdn change = 644–707 kcal/week) and moderate or greater weekly caloric expenditure (Mdn change = 149–265 kcal/week), as well as for weekly physical activity duration and frequency. These changes were observed in participants across all sites.Conclusions: The increases in weekly caloric expenditure were commensurate with findings from several previous randomized clinical trials. The utilization of community agency staff and volunteers receiving basic training to implement essential program components proved feasible. Very favorable levels of program satisfaction expressed by community staff, volunteer support buddies, and participants, combined with the significant increases in physical activity, warrant further dissemination of the intervention model.

This project was supported by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Federation for Aging Research. We thank all of the local program staff and participants for their time and effort.