Adapted physical activity to promote active and healthy ageing: the PoliFIT pilot randomized waiting list-controlled trial

  • Giuseppina BernardelliEmail author
  • Carlotta Roncaglione
  • Sarah Damanti
  • Daniela Mari
  • Matteo Cesari
  • Maura Marcucci
Original Article



Physical activities can prevent disability in elderly.


To evaluate the feasibility and impact on physical function of an adapted physical activity (APA) programme in community-dwelling people of ≥ 70 years old.


Non-blinded randomized trial with a waiting list control. Eligible people (n = 186) were randomly allocated to 4 months of weekly APA classes of 45 min or in control group performing usual lifestyle activity. Primary outcome: time to walk 400 m. Secondary outcomes: short physical performance battery (SPPB), pain (visual analogic scale, McGill Questionnaire), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), handgrip strength, accesses to Emergency Department and falls.


Participants were allocated to the intervention (n = 130) or to the control (n = 56) group (80% females aged 75.6 ± 4.6 years). We found statistically significant difference in the time to walk 400 m only in the subgroup intervention with the lower performance at baseline (p for interaction 0.031). SPPB improved and VAS decreased more in the intervention group. No significant differences for McGill questionnaire, ODI, GDS, accesses to ER and falls were showed.


Despite the good rate of attendance (71%) and satisfaction (97%), our APA programme was associated with no benefit on the time to walk 400 m and small benefit on SPPB and VAS. The efficacy of the intervention was likely limited by the short duration and low intensity and by the already good performance of our population at baseline.


We designed this initiative as a pilot study intending to implement research of this type in the future.


Adapted physical activity Active aging Healthy aging Disability Prevention Physical function 



This research was funded in part by a Grant from Italian Ministry of Health, Conto Capitale IRCCS 2012. The funders played no role in the design, methods, subject recruitment, data collection, analysis or preparation of the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures in this study that involved human participants were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the local ethical committee [approval number 813_2015] and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Research involving animals

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppina Bernardelli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlotta Roncaglione
    • 2
  • Sarah Damanti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniela Mari
    • 2
  • Matteo Cesari
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maura Marcucci
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Sciences and Community HealthUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  2. 2.Geriatric UnitFondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore PoliclinicoMilanItaly
  3. 3.Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and ImpactMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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