Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Promotion of physical activity interventions for community dwelling older adults: A systematic review of reviews

Zubala, Ania; MacGillivray, Stephen; Frost, Helen; Kroll, Thilo; Skelton, Dawn A.; Gavine, Anna; Gray, Nicola M.; Toma, Madalina; Morris, Jacqui


Ania Zubala

Stephen MacGillivray

Helen Frost

Thilo Kroll

Dawn A. Skelton

Anna Gavine

Nicola M. Gray

Madalina Toma

Jacqui Morris


Hajo Zeeb


Objectives While there is strong evidence that regular participation in physical activity (PA) brings numerous health benefits to older adults, and interventions to effectively promote PA are being developed and tested, the characteristics and components of the most effective interventions remain unclear. This systematically conducted review of systematic reviews evaluated the effects and characteristics of PA promotion interventions aimed at community dwelling people over 50 years old. Methods Major databases were searched for reviews from January 1990 to May 2015. TIDieR guidelines aided data extraction and the ROBIS tool was used to assess the risk of bias. Primary outcomes were objective and self-reported levels of PA. Indicators of psychological wellbeing and participation rates were secondary outcomes. Results Of 1284 records identified, 19 reviews met inclusion criteria and eight included meta-analyses. Interventions typically incorporated behaviour change techniques (BCTs) and were delivered as face-to-face, remote, group, individual or as combined interventions. Despite their heterogeneity, interventions often resulted in sustained improvements in PA over the study period, typically at 12 months, and led to improvements in general wellbeing. However, ways to ensure effective maintenance beyond one year are unclear. Certain intervention components were more clearly associated with positive effects (e.g. tailoring promotion strategy with combination of cognitive and behavioural elements, low to moderate intensity activity recommended). We found no evidence that certain other intervention characteristics were superior in achieving positive outcomes (e.g. mode of delivery, setting, professional background of the intervention provider, type of PA recommended). Conclusion The evidence suggests that interventions to promote PA among older adults are generally effective but there is uncertainty around the most beneficial intervention components. There are indications that purely cognitive strategies and BCTs might be less suitable for older adults than motivators more meaningful to them, including social and environmental support, and enjoyment coming from being physically active. A whole system-oriented approach is required that is tailored to meet the needs of older adults and aligned with social, individual and environmental factors.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 22, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 10, 2017
Publication Date Jul 10, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 12, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 12, 2017
Journal PLOS ONE
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 7
Article Number e0180902
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Agricultural and Biological Sciences; General Medicine
Public URL
Contract Date Oct 12, 2017


Promotion of physical activity interventions for community dwelling older adults: A systematic review of reviews (2 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Copyright: © 2017 Zubala et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations