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J Med Internet Res. 2013 Feb 5;15(2):e19. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2158.

Web-based intervention to promote physical activity by sedentary older adults: randomized controlled trial.

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ORCAS, Eugene, OR, USA.



Physical activity (PA) for older adults has well-documented physical and cognitive benefits, but most seniors do not meet recommended guidelines for PA, and interventions are lacking.


This study evaluated the efficacy of a 12-week Internet intervention to help sedentary older adults over 55 years of age adopt and maintain an exercise regimen.


A total of 368 sedentary men and women (M=60.3; SD 4.9) were recruited, screened, and assessed online. They were randomized into treatment and control groups and assessed at pretest, at 12 weeks, and at 6 months. After treatment group participants rated their fitness level, activity goals, and barriers to exercise, the Internet intervention program helped them select exercise activities in the areas of endurance, flexibility, strengthening, and balance enhancement. They returned to the program weekly for automated video and text support and education, with the option to change or increase their exercise plan. The program also included ongoing problem solving to overcome user-identified barriers to exercise.


The multivariate model indicated significant treatment effects at posttest (P=.001; large effect size) and at 6 months (P=.001; medium effect size). At posttest, intervention participation showed significant improvement on 13 of 14 outcome measures compared to the control participants. At 6 months, treatment participants maintained large gains compared to the control participants on all 14 outcome measures.


These results suggest that an online PA program has the potential to positively impact the physical activity of sedentary older adult participants. More research is needed to replicate the study results, which were based on self-report measures. Research is also needed on intervention effects with older populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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