Background: Although many physical activity (PA) programs have been implemented and tested for effectiveness, high participation levels are needed in order to achieve public health impact. This study aimed to determine participation levels of PA programs aimed to improve PA among community-dwelling older adults. Methods: We searched five databases up until March 2013 (PubMed, PubMed publisher, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and Web of Science) to identify English-written studies investigating the effect of PA programs on at least one component of PA (e.g. frequency, duration) among community-dwelling populations (i.e. not in a primary care setting and/or assisted living or nursing home) of persons aged 55 years and older. Proportions of participants starting and completing the PA programs (initial and sustained participation, respectively) were determined. Results: The search strategy yielded 11,994 records of which 16 studies were included reporting on 17 PA programs.The number of participants enrolled in the PA programs ranged between 24 and 582 persons. For 12 PA programs it was not possible to calculate initial participation because the number of older adults invited to participate was unknown due to convenience sampling. Of the five remaining programs, mean initial participation level was 9.2% (±5.7%). Mean sustained participation level of all 17 programs was 79.8% (±13.2%). Conclusions: Understanding how to optimize initial participation of older adults in PA programs deserves more attention in order to improve the population impact of PA programs for community-dwelling older adults.

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BMC Public Health
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van der Deijl, M., Schop-Etman, A., Kamphuis, C., & van Lenthe, F. (2014). Participation levels of physical activity programs for community-dwelling older adults: A systematic review. BMC Public Health (Vol. 14). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1301