Cancer Control Research5R01CA126448-05
Clark, Phillip G.
MAINTAINING EXERCISE AND HEALTHY EATING IN OLDER ADULTS
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The broad objectives of this research project are to develop effective intervention methods for long-term maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviors (exercise and diet) in older adults to improve their health status and quality of life. The specific aims are to address the following questions: (1) Does an individualized active- maintenance intervention maintain greater levels of healthy dietary and exercise behaviors for four years, compared to a control condition, in older adults? (2) What are the psychosocial factors associated with perceived maintenance of health-promoting behaviors in the very old? (3) What are the effects of the perceived maintenance of health-promoting behaviors on reported health outcomes, psychosocial measures, anthropometries, and cognitive status? and (4) What is the relationship between self-reported and objectively measured levels of exercise and diet in a sub-sample of older adults (including environmental factors associated with physical activity and diet)? The health-relatedness of this project is significant, because it is targeted on promoting two essential health-related behaviors (exercise and diet) among an increasingly important population group in the US, older adults. The research design and methodology incorporates a community-dwelling older adult population (projected N = 680 from an original sample of 1277, mean age = 80 years) tracked for over 2 years as part of the previously funded SENIOR Project (Study of Exercise and Nutrition in Older Rhode Islanders). Participants will be randomized into intervention and control groups stratified by previous SENIOR Project group assignment. Both groups will be interviewed annually to assess exercise levels and fruit and vegetable consumption, general health outcomes, and psychosocial variables. The experimental group will receive stage-based interventions (manual, newsletters, and coaching calls) focusing on actively maintaining defined levels of exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption. Intervention materials will incorporate specific content focusing on key skills, processes, and methods of maintaining behavioral levels in spite of such threats to relapse as illness, hospitalization, falls, socioeconomic changes, and interpersonal losses. This proposed research represents a unique and unprecedented opportunity to understand the dynamics of healthy lifestyle maintenance in a large-scale older adult cohort over ten years of longitudinal follow-up study. The relevance of this research for public health is enormous. Older adults represent the fastest growing US population group and pose unprecedented health promotion challenges to our society. Recent research indicates that some of the chronic health problems associated with old age may be prevented or postponed and controlled, reducing the burden of chronic disease and improving functional ability and potentially saving substantial health care dollars. Particular attention has focused on exercise and diet as having the most potential for achieving these aims.