Kenneth P. Kell & Elizabeth Y. Rula
Springer International Publishing, 2019


Purpose: To evaluate whether health-related quality-of-life measures can be improved in a senior population by increasing participation in an exercise program.

Methods: The study involved a nationwide sample of adults aged 65 and older (mean age 73.2 in first study year) who participated in the SilverSneakers fitness program between 2010 and 2016. We analyzed data from 7 years of program participation records and annual participant surveys. Study members completed ≥ 2 annual surveys (n = 46,564). Participation frequency change was measured by average visits per week (AVPW) to a fitness center from the initial survey year to follow-up years. Quality-of-life measures included the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12), Self-Rated Health, and BRFSS Healthy Days measures. Longitudinal analyses evaluated whether an increase in visit frequency among active members of SilverSneakers was associated with change in quality-of-life measures, controlling for age and gender.

Results: Participants with more frequent visits (higher AVPW) had better SF-12 Physical and Mental Component Scores, Self-Rated Health Status, and fewer physically and mentally unhealthy days (p < 0.001 for all measures); furthermore, participants who increased AVPW longitudinally saw improvements in all outcome measures (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: SilverSneakers participation frequency is associated with higher quality of life for seniors.

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