Working (Out) from Home: The Effectiveness of Virtual Physical Activity Programs

Physical activity, while an important part of wellness, can be inaccessible for some older adults. To address the need for more accessible physical activity programs, some service providers are turning to virtual programs that individuals can join from their home. In order to examine the effectiveness of different kinds of virtual physical activity programs, one recent study explored the feasibility, acceptability, and possible benefits of live, interactive virtual programs compared to recorded, individual virtual programs. 

In order to compare the two modes of virtual programs, researchers recruited 83 adults aged 60 and better to participate in a 12-week physical activity program during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were randomly assigned to either a virtual group with a live instructor or a pre-recorded virtual group that had no access to supervision or feedback. By measuring multiple health and feasibility outcomes before and after the program, the researchers found that both groups significantly improved on functional capacities, physical performance, and quality of life. Only the live group significantly improved in perceived health and physical activity level. The live group also showed larger improvements in physical performance and quality of life and showed fewer dropouts when compared to the recorded group. These results indicate that live programs may be more beneficial compared to recorded programs. However, both programs still proved to be feasible and beneficial overall. 

This study demonstrates that virtual physical activity programs may be a viable option for older adults seeking to improve their health from their own home. This research was conducted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but virtual programs may be beneficial even beyond isolation or lockdown periods. Although more research is needed to compare different kinds of virtual and in-person programs, this research may help make physical activity more accessible for everyone. 


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Granet, J., Peyrusqué, E., Ruiz, F., Buckinx, F., Abdelkader, L. B., Dang-Vu, T. T., Sirois, M.-J., Gouin, J.-P., Pageaux, B., & Aubertin-Leheudre, M. (2023). Web-based physical activity interventions are feasible and beneficial solutions to prevent physical and mental health declines in community-dwelling older adults during isolation periods. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 78(3), 535–544.

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