Increasing older adults' walking through primary care: results of a pilot randomized controlled trial

Nanette Mutrie, Orla Doolin, Claire F. Fitzsimons, P. Margaret Grant, Malcolm Granat, Madeleine Grealy, Hazel Macdonald, Freya MacMillan, Alex McConnachie, David A. Rowe, Rebecca Shaw, Dawn A. Skelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Physical activity can positively influence health for older adults. Primary care is a good setting for physical activity promotion.

To assess the feasibility of a pedometer-based walking programme in combination with physical activity consultations.

Design: Two-arm (intervention/control) 12-week randomized controlled trial with a 12-week follow-up for the intervention group. Setting: One general practice in Glasgow, UK. Participants: Participants were aged epsilon 65 years. The intervention group received two 30-minute physical activity consultations from a trained practice nurse, a pedometer and a walking programme. The control group continued as normal for 12 weeks and then received the intervention. Both groups were followed up at 12 and 24 weeks. Outcome measures: Step counts were measured by sealed pedometers and an activPALTM monitor. Psychosocial variables were assessed and focus groups conducted.

The response rate was 66% (187/284), and 90% of those randomized (37/41) completed the study. Qualitative data suggested that the pedometer and nurse were helpful to the intervention. Step counts (activPAL) showed a significant increase from baseline to week 12 for the intervention group, while the control group showed no change. Between weeks 12 and 24, step counts were maintained in the intervention group, and increased for the control group after receiving the intervention. The intervention was associated with improved quality of life and reduced sedentary time.

It is feasible to recruit and retain older adults from primary care and help them increase walking. A larger trial is necessary to confirm findings and consider cost-effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-642
Number of pages10
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • older adults
  • walking
  • primary care
  • pilot study
  • randomized controlled trial
  • ageing
  • patient education
  • physical activity
  • prevention
  • quality of life


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