EVALUATION OF THE ACTIVE FOR LIFE PROGRAM

FUNDING SOURCE: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2002-2009

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Sara Wilcox, PhD

CO-INVESTIGATORS:

  • Sarah Griffin, PhD
  • Samira Khan, MA  
  • Marsha Dowda, PhD
  • Carol Rheaume, MS
  • Peter T. Bense, BS

Active for Life® (AFL) was established to learn how to deliver research-based physical activity programs to large numbers of mid-life and older adults, and to sustain such programs through existing community institutions. Nine community grantees implemented one of two evidence-based physical activity programs for older adults: Active Choices, a telephone-based program developed at Stanford University, or Active Living Every Day, a group-based program developed at The Cooper Institute and Human Kinetics.

The University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center in the Arnold School of Public Health conducted the process and outcome evaluation of AFL. The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health was the AFL National Program Office.

The primary aims of the process evaluation were to:

  • Monitor the extent to which the nine grantees demonstrate fidelity to the Active Choices and Active Living Every Day models in their program implementation,
  • Assess staff experiences with implementing Active Choices and Active Living Every Day, and
  • Assess participants' impressions of Active Choice and Active Living Every Day.

The primary aims of the outcome evaluation were to:

  • Evaluate the impact of Active Choices and Active Living Every Day on self-reported physical activity, and
  • Evaluate the impact of Active Choices and Active Living Every Day on self-reported stress, depressive symptoms, and satisfaction with body function and appearance.

Funding for the program came from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information about AFL, visit the website.

RESULTS:

AFL data collection has ended.  Results from the first year of the project were very positive (see Wilcox et al., 2006).  Older adults enrolled in both the Active Choices and Active Living Every Day programs showed significant and meaningful increases in physical activity as well as satisfaction with body function and appearance.  Small but significant reductions in body mass index were also found.  Older adults enrolled in the Active Living Every Day, but not the Active Choices program, also showed small but significant reductions in perceived stress and depressive symptoms (levels for both were quite low at study entry).

Findings from the later years of the program will appear in the October 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In addition, a paper describing characteristics associated with changes in physical activity will appear in a forthcoming issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.

Analyses are underway to examine changes in functional fitness (measures were collected at one Active Living Every Day site) as well as six-month post-program maintenance of physical activity. A manuscript outlining the major process evaluation findings is under review.  Additional papers are focused on other aspects of the project.

The data from AFL will be archived (prior to 1/31/2009) and made available to colleagues outside of AFL.

PUBLICATIONS:

Becofsky, K., Baruth, M., Wilcox, S. (in press). Physical activity mediates the relationship between program participation and improved mental health in older adults. Public Health. Epub ahead of print June 12, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2015.07.040

Wilcox, S. (2016). Behavioral interventions and physical activity in older adults: Gains and gaps. Kinesiology Review, 5, 57-64

Baruth M and Wilcox S (in press). "Predictors of physical activity 6-months post intervention in the Active for Life initiative." Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

Baruth, M. and S. Wilcox (2011). "Effectiveness of two evidence-based programs in participants with arthritis: findings from the active for life initiative." Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 63(7): 1038-47.

Baruth, M., S. Wilcox, et al. (2011). "Changes in physical functioning in the Active Living Every Day program of the Active for Life Initiative(R)." Int J Behav Med 18(3): 199-208.

Becofsky K, Baruth M, et al. (under review). "Psychosocial mediators of two community-based physical activity programs." Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Estabrooks, P. A., R. L. Smith-Ray, et al. (2011). "Sustainability of evidence-based community-based physical activity programs for older adults: lessons from Active for Life." Translational Behavioral Medicine 1: 208-215.

Griffin, S. F., S. Wilcox, et al. (2010). "Results from the Active for Life process evaluation: program delivery fidelity and adaptations." Health Educ Res 25(2): 325-42.

Lattimore, D., S. F. Griffin, et al. (2010). "Understanding the challenges encountered and adaptations made by community organizations in translation of evidence-based behavior change physical activity interventions: a qualitative study." Am J Health Promot 24(6): 427-34.

Lattimore, D., S. Wilcox, et al. (2011). "Self-reported barriers of older adults entering a home-based physical activity program." Californian Journal of Health Promotion 9(2): 15-28.

Umstattd, M. R., R. Motl, et al. (2009). "Measuring physical activity self-regulation strategies in older adults." J Phys Act Health 6 Suppl 1: S105-12.

Umstattd, M. R., S. Wilcox, et al. (2011). "Predictors of change in satisfaction with body appearance and body function in mid-life and older adults: Active for Life(R)." Ann Behav Med 41(3): 342-52.

Wilcox, S., M. Dowda, et al. (2009). "Predictors of increased physical activity in the Active for Life program." Prev Chronic Dis 6(1): A25.

Wilcox, S., M. Dowda, et al. (2009). "Maintenance of change in the Active-for-Life initiative." Am J Prev Med 37(6): 501-4.