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The NIHR's Physical Activity Themed Review brings together recent evidence on ways to influence physical activity behaviours in individuals and populations. It raises awareness of the findings, relating them to a broader body of research. Study 27: Keeping active: maintenance of physical activity after exercise programmes for older adults. 2018 was conducted by PI Denise Kendrick, and funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.

This cohort study examined factors associated with maintaining physical activity after completing an exercise programme within the trial described in Study 26. Participants were aged 65 or over, had received the classbased intervention, home-based intervention or usual care, and provided follow-up physical activity data at least once (n=731). Participants were mainly female, white, with a high level of education and higher socio-economic status, limiting the generalisability of the findings. After the interventions, participants received information about local exercise opportunities. Self-reported moderate to vigorous physical activity levels, and factors potentially associated with physical activity, were recorded at recruitment, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after the exercise programme. The authors found that older people and women were less likely to achieve target physical activity levels. Those already physically active when recruited, with greater lower limb strength, and with wider social networks, were more likely to achieve the target. These effects persisted across the follow-up period. The strongest association with physical activity maintenance was physical activity at recruitment. The authors recommended that maintenance programmes should target those least likely to maintain physical activity, including older women, those with narrower social networks and those with poorer lower limb strength.

Kendrick D, Orton E, Lafond N, Audsley S, Maula A, Morris R et al. Keeping active: maintenance of physical activity after exercise programmes for older adults. Public Health 2018 Nov;164:118-127.

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