Older Adults (OAs), aged 65 years and older, are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. As life expectancy increases, maintaining physical independence has become a public health priority. It is well recognized that regular physical activity (PA) can be done safely by seniors, and has multiple physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits. Yet, they remain the least physically active of any age group. This suggests that the translational reach of efficacious PA protocols to the real-world remains limited, and a need for research which is scalable to the individual in more naturalistic settings exists. An emerging trend for seniors is to choose Independent Living Facilities (ILFs) as their home. ILFs offer a variety of social, cultural, and fitness services. Access to up-to-date technologies (e.g., wireless Internet), web-based education, and wellness programs are a priority for ILF residents, thus opportunities for using technology for health promotion with OAs exists. ILFs provide a unique opportunity for PA promotion, because 1) more seniors are choosing ILFs for aging-in-place, 2) PA is of interest to ILF residents, 3) ILFs should continue to increase their wellness offerings, and 4) ILFs should be interested in incorporating PA programs into wellness offerings. Research is needed to translate efficacious PA protocols for seniors into formats that are scalable to OAs in real-world settings. The goal is to extrapolate knowledge gained from efficacy research to improve the utilization and sustainability of evidence-based methods by producing programs that are agreeable, user-friendly, and optimal at both the individual and organizational level. Smart Television and Exercise Promotion for Independent Living Facilities (STEP for LIFE) will establish the feasibility for translating an evidence-based PA program using an interactive web-enabled, streaming-video technology (i.e., Smart TV) for ILF residents. This program offers 1) an innovative and potentially effective medium to reach seniors, 2) the ability to select and sequence together a session that is personalized to fitness level, type of exercise, and duration, and 3) organizations the ability to provide desired wellness options which meet both resident and organizational needs. The purpose of this study is to provide the initial research for translating efficacious research-based PA protocols for seniors into a scalable format usable in a real-world ILF setting, and to gain knowledge at individual and organizational levels to improve implementation and sustainability of this evidence-based approach.
Specific Aims i nclude extensive formative research on the use, interest, and effectiveness of interactive multimedia approaches for promoting PA, and its integration into senior living settings. A working prototype will be developed and tested for usability with ILF residents and administrators, and seniors not residing in ILFs. Outcomes will establish the feasibility of producing and testing STEP for LIFE in a large-scale randomized trial. A larger trial can inform 1) future translation of PA promotion to other OA residential settings (e.g., assisted living, memory care, rural settings), and 2) sustainable implementation strategies for other evidence-based health promotion protocols for seniors.
Physical activity (PA) has physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits for seniors (e.g., increased strength and balance, reduced frailty, fewer falls, improved brain function, lower mortality risk), yet many seniors have limited access to exercise options due to numerous barriers (e.g., transportation concerns, financial costs, fear of injury/falling). This project will overcome common exercise barriers by creating an interactive web-enabled TV program (i.e., Smart TV), adapted from research-based PA protocols, to be implemented in an Independent Living Facility (ILF) setting. A web-based prototype will be developed, and ILF residents and administrators will be able to create, use, and evaluate a customizable exercise program tailored to the individual's preferred type of exercise, intensity, and duration.