Socio-environmental exercise preferences among older adults

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield*, Marcia S. Marx, James R. Biddison, Jack M. Guralnik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Background. To examine preferences concerning social and environmental aspects of exercise in the elderly population. Methods. Participants were 324 community-dwelling persons aged 74-85 years who completed a health questionnaire that included items on exercise preferences as well as questions on demographic variables, health, and exercise habits. Selected participants then completed a physical performance battery to measure lower body functioning. Results. A physician's advice to exercise, monitoring by a health professional, an evaluation of the exercise program by a professional, and the quality of the instructor were all rated as important or very important by at least 70% of the participants. Several other factors such as easy access to exercise facilities, type of exercise performed, free or low cost of a program, and other participants being of the same age were rated as slightly important or important. Preferences were related to participants' health and demographic characteristics. For example, participants who were not married were more interested in the social aspects of exercise programs, and those with higher levels of education and more resources were less concerned with program costs. Conclusions. The findings suggest that exercise programs should be tailored to meet the needs and wishes of subgroups of this population. In order to motivate at-risk elderly persons to exercise, programs must take these varying preferences into account and explore their meaning for program design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-811
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Research Institute on Aging at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington
National Institute on AgingZ01AG007240


    • Exercise attitudes
    • Exercise attributes
    • Incentives for physical activity
    • Motivation to exercise


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