Health and Healthcare Systems

Here's how to get older adults exercising

The Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program includes instructor-led strength training exercises like bicep curls.

The Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program includes instructor-led strength training exercises like bicep curls. Image: Pexels/SHVETS production

Brian Consiglio
Author, University of Missouri
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Health and Healthcare Systems?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Health and Healthcare is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Health and Healthcare

  • Older adults who maintain long-term exercise habits can increase both their physical energy and self-confidence.
  • Structured programs can help people develop these exercise routines, as has been seen with the US state of Missouri’s Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program.
  • Over 18 years, it has reached more than 20,000 older adults and expanded to some neighbouring states, including Oklahoma.

A new study finds that even when gyms were closed and other COVID-19 restrictions limited face-to-face meetings, older adults who completed the Stay Strong, Stay Healthy exercise program continued to maintain long-term exercise habits independently. That effort resulted in improved lifestyle changes and an increase in both physical energy and self-confidence.

“We sent the surveys three months, six months, nine months, and 12 months after their first Stay Strong, Stay Healthy class,” says Kristin Miller, an assistant extension professor in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions.

“We were hoping that they would continue to exercise regularly after the class, but we did not know to what degree or magnitude, so we were happy to learn most participants independently sustained the exercise habits they developed during the group program.”

Miller collaborated with Bree Baker, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University, to review the 12-month follow-up surveys from adults over age 50 who had taken the eight-week Stay Strong, Stay Healthy resistance training course.

Baker adds that the participants not only reported long-term physical health benefits, including better sleep and higher energy levels, but they also reported more self-confidence in their ability to complete basic daily tasks, which sometimes become more difficult for older adults as they age. Previous studies have shown that the Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program, which includes instructor-led strength training exercises like squats, bicep curls, and lunges, improves muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and sleep, as well as decreases the risk of falls for older adults.

“I think sometimes people may be unsure of themselves so they may lack the confidence that they can do certain things,” Baker says. “It was great to see that they discovered if they can lift weights or complete various exercises, they can clearly go do other things that they are interested in. So I think Stay Strong, Stay Healthy helped them build their confidence and it opened their eyes to all the other things that they can do in their life.”

Discover

What is the World Economic Forum doing to encourage healthy living in cities?

Miller has seen the program’s effect on older adults firsthand after her own parents volunteered to participate in the Stay Strong, Stay Healthy eight-week class.

“My parents were in the randomized control trial, and they still continue to do all those healthy habits they learned during the class to this day,” Miller says. “I’ve been their daughter this entire time telling them to do all these things, but it took them taking the class to actually jump start their increased activity levels and make it last.”

After 18 years, the program has reached more than 20,000 older adults and expanded to some of Missouri’s neighboring states, including Oklahoma. The findings of this study can help the program continue to grow and potentially be implemented nationwide.

Have you read?

“If you only have anecdotal example of the health benefits, that is one thing, but now with the scientific proof of the various health benefits, national governing bodies and funding organizations are more likely to provide funding to this program that has evidence that it works,” Baker says.

A study on the findings appears in the Journal of Sports Sciences.

Loading...
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Health and Healthcare SystemsWellbeing and Mental Health
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why health ministers must be at the forefront of global healthcare processes

Shyam Bishen

May 28, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum