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Ann Behav Med. 2002 Summer;24(3):190-200.

Interventions to increase physical activity among aging adults: a meta-analysis.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of Missouri-Columbia, 65211, USA.



This review applied meta-analytic procedures to integrate primary research findings that test interventions to increase activity among aging adults.


We performed extensive literature searching strategies and located published and unpublished intervention studies that measured the activity behavior of at least five participants with a mean age of 60 years or greater. Primary study results were coded, and meta-analytic procedures were conducted.


The overall effect size, weighted by sample size, was d(w) = .26 +/- .05. Effect sizes were larger when interventions targeted only activity behavior, excluded general health education, incorporated self-monitoring, used center-based exercise, recommended moderate intensity activity, were delivered in groups, used intense contact between interventionists and participants, and targeted patient populations. Effect sizes were larger for studies that measured exercise duration and studies with a time interval of less than 90 days between intervention and behavior measurement.


These findings suggest that group-delivered interventions should encourage moderate activity, incorporate self-monitoring, target only activity, and encourage center-based activity. Findings also suggest that patient populations may be especially receptive to activity interventions. Primary research testing interventions in randomized trials to confirm causal relationships would be constructive.

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