An Age-Tailored Intervention Sustains Physical Activity Changes in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Paul GellertEmail author
  • Jochen P. Ziegelmann
  • Simon Krupka
  • Nina Knoll
  • Ralf Schwarzer



A randomized controlled trial compared an age-tailored intervention to increase physical activity levels in older adults to an age-neutral intervention.


Both interventions communicated activity planning strategies and messages to improve self-efficacy. On top of this, the age-tailored intervention also included two lifespan components that targeted present orientation and emotional focus, and fostered strategies of selection, optimization, and compensation.


A total of 386 German older adults (aged 60–95 years) were randomized to receive either the age-tailored intervention (age-specific strategy training and short-term emotional focus) or the age-neutral intervention. Physical activity was measured by questionnaires at baseline (T1) and at 6-month (T2) and 12-month follow-ups (T3). Latent true change modeling was applied by creating latent change scores (T2 − T1 and T3 − T2).


After controlling for gender, age, and physical and mental health, allocation to the age-tailored intervention predicted a latent physical activity difference at T3 − T2, but not at T2 − T1.


Compared to the age-neutral intervention, the age-tailored intervention led to superior maintenance of physical activity within these older adults.


Lifespan Socioemotional selectivity Selection Optimization Compensation (SOC) Intervention Physical activity Latent true change 



This work was supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the project “Fostering Lifelong Autonomy and Resources in Europe: Behaviour and Successful Aging” FLARE-BSA (Project ID 01ET0801). The first author was funded by the PhD Program “Multimorbidity in Old Age” of the Robert Bosch Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Gellert
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
    Email author
  • Jochen P. Ziegelmann
    • 3
  • Simon Krupka
    • 1
  • Nina Knoll
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ralf Schwarzer
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Health PsychologyFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Newcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  3. 3.German Centre of GerontologyBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Medical PsychologyCharité—Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany
  5. 5.University of Social Sciences and HumanitiesWarsawPoland
  6. 6.Institute of Health and SocietyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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