184744 Walk Across Arizona: The effects of a community-based walking program on maintaining physical activity in older adults

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:30 AM

Karalee Poschman, MPH , Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Linda Block, MS , Arizona Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Robin Harris, PhD , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Arizona: College of Public Health & Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, AZ
Robert Armstrong, MS , Arizona Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Nobuko Kay Hongu, PhD, RD , Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Despite evidence that physical activity is associated with improved health outcomes in adults aged 65 years and older, only 21% meet the physical activity recommendations set by Healthy People 2010. The Walk Across Arizona (WAAZ) program is a state-wide community-based walking program developed to increase and maintain physical activity and improve community cohesion. This 16-week program is based upon encouraging social support systems as a means to increase physical activity levels and maintaining these behaviors. Between 2005 and 2007, 393 men and women aged 65 years and older participated in WAAZ and completed a physical activity, nutrition and community involvement assessment at baseline and upon conclusion of the program. Throughout the program, participants walked an average of 13.8 (10.0) miles per week. Participants aged 65 to 74 walked an average of 16.4 (11.9) miles per week while those aged 75 and over walked 11.3 (7.0) miles per week. Of participants aged 65 to74 (N=190), 45.3% had increased energy, 41.1% had less stress and 54.7% had increased activity. Of participants aged 75 and older (N=203), 37.0% had increased energy, 31.5% had less stress and 56.2% had increased activity. Among participants not involved in their community at baseline (N=174), 19.5% became involved in their community by the end of the program. Results from longitudinal analysis for yearly trends and maintenance of weekly activity will be discussed. Promoting physical activity and understanding the role of community-based interventions in increasing and maintaining physical activity are essential elements of successful aging.

Learning Objectives:
1) Understand the importance of physical activity in an aging population. 2) Examine the efficacy of a community-based walking program on increasing and maintaining physical activity. 3) Examine the role of the community in increasing physical activity in an aging population.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have an MPH and am working on a PhD in nutritional sciences.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.