Changes in physical functioning in the Active Living Every Day program of the Active for Life Initiative.
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BACKGROUND: Physical activity can prevent or delay the onset of physical functional limitations in older adults. There are limited data that evidence-based physical activity interventions can be successfully translated into community programs and result in similar benefits for physical functioning. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to measure the effects of the Active Living Every Day program on physical functioning and physical functional limitations in a diverse sample of older adults. METHODS: As a part of the Active for Life initiative, the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio implemented Active Living Every Day (ALED), a group-based lifestyle behavior change program designed to increase physical activity. Performance-based physical functioning tests (30-s Chair Stand Test, eight Foot Up-and-Go Test, Chair Sit-and-Reach Test, 30-Foot Walk Test) were administered to participants at baseline and posttest. Baseline to post-program changes in physical functioning and impairment status were examined with repeated measures analysis of covariance. Interactions tested whether change over time differed according to race/ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), and baseline impairment status. RESULTS: Participants significantly increased their performance in all four physical functioning tests. The percentage of participants classified as "impaired" according to normative data significantly decreased over time. Physical functioning improved regardless of BMI, race/ethnicity, or baseline impairment status. CONCLUSIONS: ALED is an example of an evidenced-based physical activity program that can be successfully translated into community programs and result in significant and clinically meaningful improvements in performance-based measures of physical functioning.