“It Is Our Exercise Family”: Experiences of Ethnic Older Adults in a Group-Based Exercise Program
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“It Is Our Exercise Family”: Experiences of Ethnic Older Adults in a Group-Based Exercise Program

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      Prev Chronic Dis
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      Introduction EnhanceFitness (EF) (formerly the Lifetime Fitness Program) is an evidence-based community exercise program for older adults. From 1998 to 2005, participation of ethnic older adults increased significantly. However, little research is available about what ethnic older adults want or need to continue participation in exercise programs. The purpose of this study was to examine how physical environment, social environment, and individual biology and behavior influence adherence to exercise for ethnic older adults participating in EF. Methods Six focus groups were conducted with 52 older adults participating in EF. Facilitators asked questions about factors that helped participants continue exercising in EF. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Transcripts were systematically reviewed using content analysis. Results Focus group participants were Chinese (n = 21, 40%), African American (n = 18, 35%), white (n = 10, 19%), and Japanese (n = 3, 6%). Mean (SD) age was 76 years (7.4). Participants had, on average, participated in EF for 44 months (SD = 37.8). Results revealed four themes related to adherence. First, environmental factors that promoted adherence were location of the classes, transportation, weather, and the facility. Second, design of the exercise program that encouraged adherence included exercise content and type of delivery. Third, social support factors that encouraged adherence were the socializing and support between class participants and support from family, health care providers, and the class instructors. Finally, individual factors that encouraged adherence were personality traits and feelings, past physical activity experience, health benefits, and mental stimulation. Conclusion Findings from this study suggest strategies for developing community-based physical activity programs for older adults from ethnically diverse communities.
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