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The Gerontologist 46:284-292 (2006)
© 2006 The Gerontological Society of America

Feasibility of Implementing the Strong for Life Program in Community Settings

Caryn D. Etkin, MPH1, Thomas R. Prohaska, PhD1, Bette Ann Harris, DPT, MS2, Nancy Latham, PhD3 and Alan Jette, PhD3

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Thomas R. Prohaska, PhD, Center for Research on Health and Aging, 1747 W. Roosevelt Rd. (M/C 275), Chicago, IL 60608. E-mail: prohaska{at}

Purpose: We describe the results of the dissemination of an efficacious, home-based exercise program called Strong for Life as it was implemented in a nationwide, volunteer caregiving program called Faith in Action, including training of volunteers who implemented the program, recruitment of older adult participants, exercise adherence, and attitudes and perceptions of program staff and participants. Design and Methods: Frail, homebound older adults (N = 105) were recruited from 10 Faith in Action sites to participate in the Strong for Life exercise program. Volunteer trainers (n = 103) were trained by physical therapists to assist the older adults with the program. Surveys were conducted with older adults, volunteer trainers, and Faith in Action sites at baseline and after the older adults had been engaged in the program for 4 months. Results: Satisfaction with program components was very high: At follow-up, 100% of volunteers and 98.6% of older adults rated the program positively. Participants reported engaging in exercise on average 2.2 times per week, with 53% of the participants exercising at least 2 to 4 times per week. Participants also had significant improvements in the Short Form-20 social functioning scale. There were no serious adverse events reported. Implications: Dissemination of the Strong for Life program in a community setting using trained lay volunteers was feasible, acceptable, and safe. Existing volunteer caregiving organizations such as Faith in Action offer a feasible and safe means of disseminating late-life exercise programs to the frail older population.

Key Words: Physical activity • Homebound older adults • Dissemination • Strong for Life • Faith in Action • Exercise

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Copyright © 2006 by The Gerontological Society of America.