Many age-related diseases can be prevented or delayed by daily physical activity. Unfortunately, many older adults do not perform physical activity at the recommended level. Professional interventions do not reach large numbers of older adults for a long period of time. We studied a peer-coach intervention, in which older adults coach each other, that increased daily physical activity of community dwelling older adults for over 6 years. We studied the format and effects of this peer coach intervention for possible future implementation elsewhere. Through interviews and participatory observation we studied the format of the intervention. We also used a questionnaire (n = 55) and collected 6-min walk test data (n = 261) from 2014 to 2016 to determine the motivations of participants and effects of the intervention on health, well-being and physical capacity. Vitality Club is a self-sustainable group of older adults that gather every weekday to exercise coached by an older adult. Members attend on average 2.5 days per week and retention rate is 77.5% after 6 years. The members perceived improvements in several health measures. In line with this, the 6-min walk test results of members of this Vitality Club improved with 21.7 meters per year, compared with the decline of 2-7 meters per year in the general population. This Vitality Club is successful in durably engaging its members in physical activity. The members perceive improvements in health that are in line with improvements in a physical function test. Because of the self-sustainable character of the intervention, peer coaching has the potential to be scaled up at low cost and increase physical activity in the increasing number of older adults.
- Journal Article