Improved physical function and physical activity in depressed and non-depressed older adults following a community-based intervention in Georgia senior centers
Porter, Kathryn Nicole
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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship of depression with physical activity and physical function before and after a 3-month physical activity intervention in Georgia senior centers. Participants were a convenience sample from all 12 Georgia Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) that completed a pre-test (n = 811, mean age= 75 years, 81% female, 62% Caucasian, 38% African American, 23% depressed) or the pre-test, the intervention, and the post-test (n = 614). The physical activity intervention was based on the Health Belief Model and included 12 sessions with educator-led chair exercises that incorporated balls and bands. Pre- and post-tests assessed moderate physical activity and physical function using the Short Physical Performance Battery. At the pre-test those reporting a history of depression, measured using a question from the 2006 BRFSS’s Anxiety and Depression module, participated in less moderate physical activity [mean (SD): 3.7 (2.7) vs. 4.2 (2.6) days/week, P ≤ 0.01], but depression was not related to physical function. Following the intervention there were increases in physical activity (pre- vs. post-test: 52% vs. 61%, respectively, participated in 5 or more days per week of moderate physical activity, P ≤ 0.001) and in physical function (pre- vs. post-test: 25% vs. 32%, respectively, had good physical function, P ≤ 0.01). In a series of multivariate regression analyses, a history of depression was an independent and positive predictor of change in physical function (P ≤ 0.01), and there was a trend for history of depression being a negative predictor of improvements in moderate physical activity (P ≤ 0.09). These results provide an evidence base for the effectiveness of this intervention in improving physical activity and physical function in a community setting. Moreover, the relatively high prevalence of a history of depression in this sample was not a barrier to these improvements.