OBJECTIVES: To explore factors associated with maintenance of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 years after completing a 24-week exercise programme.
STUDY DESIGN: This is a cohort study nested within a randomised controlled trial evaluating group- and home-based exercise programmes for older people in England.
METHODS: MVPA levels and factors potentially associated with physical activity (PA) were self-reported at recruitment, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after exercise programme. Multilevel logistic regression estimated odds ratios (ORs) for achieving target MVPA level (150 min/week) 6-24 months after exercise programmes ended.
RESULTS: Older people (OR per year increase: 0.89, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.86, 0.93) and women (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.33, 0.67) were less likely to achieve target MVPA. Those physically active at recruitment (OR 11.28, 95% CI 7.95, 16.01), with wider social networks (OR per unit increase in Lubben Social Network Scale: 1.06, 95% CI 1.03, 1.10) and performing more sit-to-stands in 30 s (OR for quartile 3 compared with quartile 1: 1.87, 95% CI 1.12, 3.10), were more likely to achieve target MVPA. Negative exercise expectations increased the odds of achieving target MVPA but only among the less active at recruitment (OR per unit increase in Outcome and Expectation for Exercise negative subscale: 1.90, 95% CI 1.39, 2.60). Associations did not differ significantly across the follow-up period.
CONCLUSION: A range of factors are associated with maintenance of PA 6-24 months after exercise programmes. Factors are not more strongly associated with shorter vs longer term PA maintenance. Commissioners and providers should consider targeting maintenance interventions to those least likely to maintain PA.