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      Older people’s adherence to community-based group exercise programmes: a multiple-case study

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          Physical inactivity is a global phenomenon, with estimates of one in four adults not being active enough to achieve health benefits, thus heightening the risk of developing non-communicable diseases. In order to realise the health and wellbeing gains associated with physical activity the behaviour must be sustained. Community-based group exercise programmes (CBGEP) utilising social supports have been shown to be one means of not only increasing activity levels for older people, but sustaining physical activity.

          A gap in the literature was identified around older people’s long-term adherence to real-life CBGEP within a UK context. This study therefore sought to address this gap by understanding older people’s ongoing adherence to CBGEP with a view to gaining further insight about which factors contribute to enabling people to sustain their physical activity levels.


          A multiple case study research design was employed to understand older people’s (≥60 years, n = 27) adherence (≥ 69%, for ≥ 1 year) to three current CBGEP in the South- West of England. Qualitative data (participant observation, focus groups, documents, and interviews) were collected and analysed using inductive thematic analysis followed by the analytic technique of explanation building. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and used to set the context of the study.


          The current study offers five unique insights into real-life programmes which have been successful in helping older people maintain adherence for a year or longer. These included: factors relating to the individual, the instructor (particularly their personality, professionalism and humanised approach), programme design (including location, affordability, the use of music, and adaptable exercise content), social features which supported a sense of belonging, and participant perceived benefits (physical and psycho-social). These all served to explain older people’s adherence to CBGEP.


          These factors related to participant adherence of CBGEP must be considered if we wish to support older people in sustaining a physically active lifestyle as they age. These findings are of interest to practitioners and policy makers in how CBGEP serve to aid older people in maintaining a physically active lifestyle with a view to preventing non-communicable diseases and in maintaining social connectivity.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Non-vigorous physical activity and all-cause mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies.

          Although previous studies have found physical activity to be associated with lower mortality, the dose-response relationship remains unclear. In this systematic review and meta-analysis we quantify the dose-response relationship of non-vigorous physical activity and all-cause mortality. We aimed to include all cohort studies in adult populations with a sample size of more than 10 000 participants that estimated the effect of different levels of light or moderate physical activity on all-cause mortality. We searched Medline, Embase, Cochrane (DARE), Web of Science and Global Health (June 2009). We used dose-response meta-regression models to estimate the relation between non-vigorous physical activity and mortality. We identified 22 studies that met our inclusion criteria, containing 977 925 (334 738 men and 643 187 women) people. There was considerable variation between the studies in their categorization of physical activity and adjustment for potential confounders. We found that 2.5 h/week (equivalent to 30 min daily of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week) compared with no activity was associated with a reduction in mortality risk of 19% [95% confidence interval (CI) 15-24], while 7 h/week of moderate activity compared with no activity reduced the mortality risk by 24% (95% CI 19-29). We found a smaller effect in studies that looked at walking alone. Being physically active reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. The largest benefit was found from moving from no activity to low levels of activity, but even at high levels of activity benefits accrue from additional activity.
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            Physical activity and all-cause mortality: an updated meta-analysis with different intensity categories.

            In a meta-analysis we investigated the effect of physical activity with different intensity categories on all-cause mortality. Many studies have reported positive effects of regular physical activity on primary prevention. This recent meta-analysis analyzed all-cause mortality with special reference to intensity categories. A computerized systematic literature search was performed in EMBASE, PUBMED, and MEDLINE data bases (1990-2006) for prospective cohort studies on physical leisure activity. Thirty-eight studies were identified and evaluated. The presentation refers to studies with 3 or 4 different intensities of regular physical activity according to a standard questionnaire. There was a significant association of lower all-cause mortality for active individuals compared with sedentary persons. For studies with three activity categories (mildly, moderately, and highly active) and multivariate-adjusted models, highly active men had a 22% lower risk of all-cause mortality (RR=0.78; 95% CI: 0.72 to 0.84) compared to mildly active men. For women, the relative risk was 0.69 (95% CI: 0.53 to 0.90). We observed similar results in moderately active persons compared to mildly active individuals (RR=0.81 for men and RR=0.76 for women). This association of activity to all-cause mortality was similar and significant in older subjects. Regular physical activity over longer time is strongly associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality in active subjects compared to sedentary persons. There is a dose-response curve especially from sedentary subjects to those with mild and moderate exercise with only a minor additional reduction with further increase in activity level.
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              Effectiveness of physical activity interventions for older adults: a review.

              This review evaluates the effectiveness of physical activity interventions among older adults. Computerized searches were performed to identify randomized controlled trials. Studies were included if: (1) the study population consisted of older adults (average sample population age of > or =50 years and minimum age of 40 years); (2) the intervention consisted of an exercise program or was aimed at promoting physical activity; and (3) reported on participation (i.e., adherence/compliance) or changes in level of physical activity (e.g., pre-post test measures and group comparisons). The 38 studies included 57 physical activity interventions. Three types of interventions were identified: home-based, group-based, and educational. In the short-term, both home-based interventions and group-based interventions achieved high rates of participation (means of 90% and 84%, respectively). Participation declined the longer the duration of the intervention. Participation in education interventions varied widely (range of 35% to 96%). Both group-based interventions and education interventions were effective in increasing physical activity levels in the short-term. Information on long-term effectiveness was either absent or showed no difference of physical activity level between the study groups. Home-based, group-based, and educational physical activity interventions can result in increased physical activity, but changes are small and short-lived. Participation rates of home-based and group-based interventions were comparable, and both seemed to be unrelated to type or frequency of physical activity. The beneficial effect of behavioral reinforcement strategies was not evident. Comparative studies evaluating the effectiveness of diverse interventions are needed to identify the interventions most likely to succeed in the initiation and maintenance of physical activity.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                25 January 2017
                25 January 2017
                : 17
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0728 4630, GRID grid.17236.31, Royal London House, R601, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, , Bournemouth University, ; Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, BH1 3LT UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0728 4630, GRID grid.17236.31, Royal London House, R315, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, , Bournemouth University, ; Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, BH1 3LT UK
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0728 4630, GRID grid.17236.31, , Royal London House, R603, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University, ; Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, BH1 3LT UK
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef, Bournemouth University;
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                © The Author(s) 2017


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