Monday, May 21, 2018

Walking: Motivating Older Adults (Research, Video 2:58)

Walking. There is a great deal of evidence supporting the health benefits of regular walking for adults. Still, many have not embraced the practice and appear to need more outside motivation. In this study on motivating older adults to walk more, outside incentives included money and donations to charity. The effects of both of these incentives in terms of their improvement and retention in levels of walking were also evaluated. Participants included 94 older adults aged 65 and older living in a Philadelphia-area retirement community.

Using digital pedometers, participants kept tract of increasing their walking progress by 50% in daily steps. Weekly progress was recorded. Participants were randomly selected for these four groups:

1) Control Group: received weekly feedback only.

2) Financial Incentives: received payment of $20 each week walking goals were met.
3) Social Goals: received donation of $20 to a charity of choice each week walking goals were met.
4) Combined: received $20 each week walking goals were met that could be received by participant, donated to a charity of choice, or divided between the participant and charity.

At the end of this 16-week experiment, conclusions indicated that donations to a charity of choice, personal financial incentives, or a combination of the two can each increase older adults' initial uptake of increased levels of walking. People the world over are living longer, and now a new study shows who is likely to live the longest. The information could help doctors and others, including the elderly, plan goals for treatment and care.

Based on this experiment, do you think older adults in need of more motivation should be paid to walk? In this video, walking speed is associated with longevity because it often reflects how well many body systems operate. However, even slower walking is encouraged if that is the walker’s preference.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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