Should Structured Exercise Be Promoted As a Model of Care? Dissemination of the Department of Veterans Affairs Gerofit Program.
Exercise provides a wide range of health-promoting benefits, but support is limited for clinical programs that use exercise as a means of health promotion. This stands in contrast to restorative or rehabilitative exercise, which is considered an essential medical service. We propose that there is a place for ongoing, structured wellness and health promotion programs, with exercise as the primary therapeutic focus. Such programs have long-lasting health benefits, are easily implementable, and are associated with high levels of participant satisfaction. We describe the dissemination and implementation of a long-standing exercise and health promotion program, Gerofit, for which significant gains in physical function that have been maintained over 5 years of follow-up, improvements in well-being, and a 10-year 25% survival benefit among program adherents have been documented. The program has been replicated at 6 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. The pooled characteristics of enrolled participants (n = 691) demonstrate substantial baseline functional impairment (usual gait speed 1.05 ± 0.3 m/s, 8-foot up and go 8.7 ± 6.7 seconds, 30-second chair stands 10.7 ± 5.1, 6-minute walk distance 404.31 ± 141.9 m), highlighting the need for such programs. Change scores over baseline for 3, 6, and 12 months of follow-up are clinically and statistically significant (P < .05 all measures) and replicate findings from the parent program. Patient satisfaction ratings of high ranged from 88% to 94%. We describe the implementation process and present 1-year outcomes. We suggest that such programs be considered essential elements of healthcare systems.
Morey, MC; Lee, CC; Castle, S; Valencia, WM; Katzel, L; Giffuni, J; Kopp, T; Cammarata, H; McDonald, M; Oursler, KA; Wamsley, T; Jain, C; Bettger, JP; Pearson, M; Manning, KM; Intrator, O; Veazie, P; Sloane, R; Li, J; Parker, DC
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