FREE EXERCISE PROGRAMS FOR THE ELDERLY: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW ON ADHERENCE AND ABANDONMENT

PROGRAMAS GRATUITOS DE EXERCÍCIO FÍSICO PARA IDOSOS: UMA REVISÃO SISTEMÁTICA SOBRE ADESÃO E DESISTÊNCIA

Elizabeth Rose Assumpção Harris Flávia Porto Melo Ferreira Helder Guerra de Resende Nádia Souza Lima da Silva About the authors

ABSTRACT

The elderly population in Brazil is on the rise. As a consequence, there is an equal growth in the number of free public exercise programs directed to this group. Considering the benefits of exercising and the importance of adherence to this behavior so that the benefits can be perceived, we conducted a systematic review of the existing literature on the topic, aiming to identify the reasons that lead to adherence to free public exercise programs, as well as those that lead to abandoning the same programs. Searches were conducted on SciElo, SPORTdiscus and Pubmed databases, with search phrases in Portuguese and in English. After a triage, ten studies were analyzed regarding sample characteristics, program type, data collection method and the reasons behind the subjects’ adherence and abandonment. We verified that elderly people tend to enter the projects for health-related reasons, but they remain due to other factors, such as socialization and the perception of the benefits brought on by exercising. As for abandonment, it occurs due to health problems, muscle pain due to exercising, dislike for the classes and family business.

Keywords:
Physical Exercise; Elderly; Adherence; Abandonment

RESUMO

A população idosa cresce cada vez mais no Brasil. Como consequência, há um crescimento equivalente no número de programas públicos de exercícios físicos direcionados a esse grupo. Considerando os benefícios dos exercícios físicos e a importância de se aderir a esse comportamento para que os benefícios possam ser percebidos, foi realizada uma revisão sistemática da literatura existente sobre esse assunto com o objetivo de identificar os motivos que levam à adesão a programas gratuitos de exercícios, assim como aqueles que levam à desistência dos mesmos programas. Foram realizadas buscas nas bases de dados SciElo, SPORTdiscus e Pubmed, com frases de busca em português e em inglês. Após uma triagem, dez estudos foram analisados em relação às características das amostras, tipos de programas, método de coleta de dados e as razões por trás da adesão e da desistência dos sujeitos. Verificamos que as pessoas idosas tendem a entrar nos projetos por motivos relacionados à saúde, mas permanecem devido a outros fatores, como a socialização e a percepção dos benefícios provenientes da prática de exercícios. Quanto ao abandono, o mesmo ocorreu devido a problemas de saúde, dor muscular causada pelo exercício, o desgosto pelas aulas e questões relacionadas à família.

Palavras-chave:
Exercício Físico; Idosos; Adesão; Desistência

Introduction

The percentage of the world’s population that is considered elderly is constantly growing, especially due to reduced birthrates and the increase in life expectancy in many countries11 United Nations [Internet]. World Population Prospects: 2017 revision. [Access on 3 dez 2018]. Available at https United://population.un.org/wpp/
https United://population.un.org/wpp...
. Around the world, this is the population group that increases the most. In 2015, estimates projected the existence of approximately 901 million people older than 60 years of age, something that corresponded to about 12% of the world population. For the year of 2050, the projection for most countries (except those located in Africa) is for the over-60 age-group to represent 25% or more of the entire population22 United Nations [Internet]. World Population Prospects: 2015 revision [Access on 4 agu 2017]. Available at https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/publications/files/key_findings_wpp_2015.pdf
https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/publications...
.

Considering the growth of the elderly population, there is justification for the increase of the number of research and assistance programs, as well as public policies, directed towards this age group, such as the Elderly Persons’ Statute, the Brazilian National Plan for the Elderly and, in a more general matter, the Organic Social Aid Law33 Benedetti TRB, Gonçalves LHT, Mota JAPS. Uma proposta de política pública de atividade física para idosos. Texto Contexto Enferm 2007;16(3):387-398. DOI: 10.1590/S0104-07072007000300003.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-0707200700...
. Among these programs, our attention is called by the ‘Academias da Saúde’ (Health Gyms), a program created by the Brazil’s Ministry of Health in 2011 with the objective of acting as a vehicle for health promotion, making physical exercise and other practices possible, as well as those of healthy eating and health education44 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde [Internet]. Programa Academia da Saúde [Access on 24 may 2015]. Available at http://dab.saude.gov.br/portaldab/ape_academia_saude.php?conteudo=sobre_academia.
http://dab.saude.gov.br/portaldab/ape_ac...
. These gyms are located in public areas and have adequate infrastructure for their purpose, as well as the presence of qualified professionals in order to achieve the project’s goals44 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde [Internet]. Programa Academia da Saúde [Access on 24 may 2015]. Available at http://dab.saude.gov.br/portaldab/ape_academia_saude.php?conteudo=sobre_academia.
http://dab.saude.gov.br/portaldab/ape_ac...
.

The national ‘Academias da Saúde’ program gave rise to many projects, aiming to offer physical exercise to elderly people in different cities around the country, such as the ‘Rio Ar Livre’ (RAL) program in the city of Rio de Janeiro55 Secretaria Municipal de Envelhecimento Ativo, Resiliência e Cuidados - SEMEARC [Internet]. Rio Ar Livre, uma modalidade de exercício físico para a terceira idade. [Access on 13 apr 2016]. Available at http://prefeitura.rio/web/semearc/programas-projetos.
http://prefeitura.rio/web/semearc/progra...
. Projects of this nature represent a great opportunity for their target age group as they improve access to regular exercise, allowing the older adults to participate in preventative activities that will maintain or improve their health condition and autonomy, as well as facilitate the formation of social support groups, thus contributing for an improvement in this group’s quality of life66 Silva NL, Brasil C, Furtado H, Costa J, Farinatti P. Exercício físico e envelhecimento: Benefícios à saúde e características de programas desenvolvidos pelo LABSAU/IEFD/UERJ. Rev HUPE 2014;13(2):75-85. DOI: 10.12957/rhupe.2014.10129.
https://doi.org/10.12957/rhupe.2014.1012...
.

However, in order for its participants to obtain the benefits that are commonly associated with physical exercise, they must adhere to the program, as it seems to be public knowledge already that the biological and psychosocial benefits associated with exercise only occur when it happens regularly and systematically. Moreover, any gains obtained through exercise may reverse after up to two years, no matter how intensely a person was exercising before stopping77 Roie EV, Walker S, Driessche SV, Baggen R, Coudyzer W, Bautmans I, Delecluse C. Training load does not affect detraining's effect on muscle volume, muscle strength and functional capacity among older adults. Exp Gerontol 2017;98:30-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.exger.2017.07.017.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2017.07....
. It is known that adherence to regular physical exercise is more difficult for the elderly since, for them, there is a series of barriers, such as fear of exercising, physical and environmental limitations and even family pressure88 Lopes MA, Krug RR, Bonetti A, Mazo GZ. Barreiras que influenciaram a não-adoção de atividade física por longevas. Rev Bras Cienc Esporte 2016;38(1):76-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.rbce.2015.10.011.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbce.2015.10.0...
, which lead to high dropout rates in this type of program99 Hauser E, Gonçalves AK, Martins VF, Blessman EJ. Motivos de desistência em um programa de atividades físicas para idosos. Rev Kairós 2014;17(2):43-56. DOI: 10.23925/2176-901X.2014v17i2p43-56.
https://doi.org/10.23925/2176-901X.2014v...
. Some free and public programs may facilitate adherence for older people, though little is known about it.

Many studies explore the effects that physical exercise has on the elderly population1010 Dias RMR, Gurjão ALD, Marucci MFN. Benefícios do treinamento com pesos para aptidão física de idosos. Acta Fisiatr 2006;13(2):90-95.

11 Borges MRD, Moreira AK. Influências da prática de atividades físicas na terceira idade: Estudo comparativo dos níveis de autonomia para o desempenho nas AVDs entre idosos ativos fisicamente e idosos sedentários. Motriz 2009;15(3):562-573.
-1212 Wiechmann MT, Ruzene JRS, Navega MT. O exercício resistido na mobilidade, flexibilidade, força muscular e equilíbrio de idosos. Conscientiae Saúde 2013;12(2):219-226. DOI: 10.5585/conssaude.v12n2.3349.
https://doi.org/10.5585/conssaude.v12n2....
, but not many about the reasons why they join, remain and dropout from exercise programs. Compiling their reasons for adhering to and abandoning such programs may be interesting to help improve ingress and adherence strategies for this age group, strengthening them as public health policy programs. Although there is a systematic review from 2013 regarding the entrance and maintenance of the elderly in physical activity programs1313 Ribeiro LB, Rogatto GP, Machado AA, Valim-Rogatto PC. Motivos de adesão e desistência de idosos à prática de atividade física. Rev Bras Promoc Saúde 2013;26(4):581-589. DOI: 10.5020/18061230.2013.p58.
https://doi.org/10.5020/18061230.2013.p5...
, the study did not focus on free public programs, making our study relevant and necessary, as little is known about the people who frequent this type of program and their motivations, as well as for the purpose of nurturing public policies with this information, contributing to a better quality of the programs.

Thus, this study aimed to compile elderly peoples’ reasons for adherence and abandonment of free and public exercise programs that offer regular exercise practice. More specifically, the aims were: a) to investigate the nature of elderly peoples’ reasons for remaining and abandoning free and public exercise programs; b) to discover what types of exercise are offered in the programs; and c) to examine the characteristics of the samples used in the studies. It is important to consider these variables because they may or may not influence the adherence and dropout rates in these programs, as well as show which groups tend to remain in each type of activity. No time-related or geographical barriers were determined when searching for studies to include in this review as our aim was to analyze adherence and abandonment in general.

Methods

Protocol

This systematic literature review was conducted according to the protocol in ‘Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review’ (PRISMA), respecting the limitations that apply to studies conducted in the sociocultural area of knowledge regarding some of the items in the checklist1414 Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG. Principais itens para relatar Revisões Sistemáticas e Meta-análises: a recomendação PRISMA. Epidemiol Serv Saúde 2015;24(2):355-342. DOI: 10.5123/S1679-49742015000200017.
https://doi.org/10.5123/S1679-4974201500...
. As such, it was not possible to standardize the type of study that was analyzed or to register the review in the Cochrane database.

Elegibility Criteria

In order for a study to be included in this review, it had to obey the following criteria: a) to have been developed with humans of any sex and with ages greater than or equal to 60 years; b) be about the adherence or abandonment of elderly people in relation to a supervised free public exercise program; c) to be completely available through the databases; d) be written in English or Portuguese. There were no limitations imposed on the year of publication.

Information sources and search strategy

The revision was conducted with studies published until January 2019 in the Scielo, Pubmed and SPORTdiscus databases. These databases were selected due to their area of focus, considering that our focus was set on studies in the Physical Education field. No limitations were imposed on the years of publication included in the search.

The keywords used in the search were selected from the list of Health Sciences Descriptors (Descritores em Ciências da Saúde - DeCS) and also from Novo Aurélio Século XXI, a portuguese language dictionary1515 Ferreira ABH. Novo Aurélio Século XXI: O dicionário da língua portuguesa. 3. ed. São Paulo: Nova Fronteira; 1999.: adhesion / adherence / maintenance, elderly / old, desistance / dropout / abandonment, physical exercise / physical activity / physical training. The search terms were employed both in Portuguese and in English in all of the databases.

The following search phrase was used in Portuguese: adesão OR adesões OR aderência OR aderências OR manutenção OR manutenções AND idoso OR idosa OR idosos OR idosas OR terceira idade OR melhor idade AND desistência OR desistências OR abandono OR abandonos AND atividade física OR atividades físicas OR exercício físico OR exercícios físicos OR treinamento físico OR treinamentos físicos. In English, due to the difference in terminology, we did not use the literal translation of all terms, preferring the following search phrase instead: adhesion OR adherence OR maintenance AND elderly OR old AND desistance OR dropout OR dropouts OR abandonment AND physical activity OR physical activities OR exercise OR exercises OR physical training. The filters that were used were ‘full-text, humans and title/abstract’. For every new search that was conducted, there were additions to the results. When the search phrases were inadequate for specific search forms in different databases, multiple searches were conducted with smaller versions of the search phrase until all the terms had been contemplated in combination with the others.

Study selection

The study selection was conducted by a single researcher. In the study identification phase, 6.574 studies were found in the aforementioned databases, aside from three previously identified studies. During the initial title and abstract triage, one article was discarded for being a duplicate and 6.555 were discarded for having been conducted with inadequate subjects for this review. The 21 studies that remained after the inclusion filter were submitted to the scanning and, afterwards, skimming reading techniques1616 Lakatos EM, Marconi MDA. Procedimentos didáticos. In: Lakatos EM, Marconi MDA. Fundamentos de metodologia científica: Rio de Janeiro: Atlas; 2003., after which eleven studies were discarded for not obeying the study’s inclusion criteria. In the end, ten studies were selected for analysis (Figure 1). Lastly, the final decision to include the 10 articles took into consideration their methodological quality, which was analyzed with the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) critical evaluation tool for use in Systematic Reviews, especially for qualitative research1717 Joanna Briggs Institute. Critical appraisal checklist for qualitative research. [Access on mai 2017]. Available at http://joannabriggs.org/assets/docs/critical-appraisal-tools/JBI_Critical_Appraisal-Checklist_for_Qualitative_Research2017.pdf
http://joannabriggs.org/assets/docs/crit...
,1818 Lockwood C, Munn Z, Porritt K. Qualitative research synthesis: methodological guidance for systematic reviewers utilizing meta-aggregation. Int J Evid Based Healthc 2015;13(3):179-187. DOI: 10.1097/XEB.0000000000000062.
https://doi.org/10.1097/XEB.000000000000...
(Table 1). All of the studies that were included fulfilled a minimum of seven requirements out of ten. Question six of the evaluation instrument is not applicable to any of the studies but Souza and Vendrusculo1919 Souza DL, Vendrusculo R. Fatores determinantes para a continuidade da participação de idosos em programas de atividade física: a experiência dos participantes do projeto "Sem Fronteiras". Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2010;24(1):95-105. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092010000100009.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509201000...
. This demonstrates that the studies are of good methodological quality.

Figure 1
Article selection flow chart

Table 1
Qualitative evaluation of the studies included in the review

Data collection process and data items

Data collection was conducted by a single researcher. The following data were collected from the studies and qualitatively analyzed: a) sample characteristics (sample size, sex, age and participants’ sociodemographic data); b) analyzed program’s characteristics (such as the types of exercise offered and the weekly frequency at which the programs took place); c) data collection instrument; d) results (mains reasons for adherence or abandonment).

Results

Study Characteristics

Table 2 shows the studies that were included in this systematic review and the variables that were considered. Most of the selected studies are cross-sections, except for the one by Medeiros et al.2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
, who collected data for their study both longitudinally and also cross-sectionally.

Of the ten included studies, seven are university extension projects and one of them is being conducted with help of the city where the project was developed. It should be noted that Freitas et al.2020 Freitas CMSM, Santiago MS, Viana AT, Leão AC, Freyre C. Aspectos motivacionais que influenciam a adesão e manutenção de idosos a programas de exercícios físicos. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum 2007;9(1):92-100. investigated two programs simultaneously: one of them is a university extension program and the other is municipally run.

The samples for most of the studies involve mostly female subjects. Medeiros et al.2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
worked only with male subjects, which were the focus of their investigation, but their sample represented only 15-29% of the total participants in the project they investigated. Also, although some studies do not show sociodemographic data, in those that show this kind of information, most of the samples are composed of married individuals that belong to the highest economic classification and who had a good education and good jobs throughout their lives.

Reasons for Adherence

Table 3 shows the main reasons that lead older people to enter and remain in public exercise programs. The most frequently mentioned reasons for entering the programs that were investigated by these studies has to do with health, such as medical orders and individual worries about health improvement2020 Freitas CMSM, Santiago MS, Viana AT, Leão AC, Freyre C. Aspectos motivacionais que influenciam a adesão e manutenção de idosos a programas de exercícios físicos. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum 2007;9(1):92-100.,2121 Pereira JRP, Okuma SS. O perfil dos ingressantes de um programa de educação física para idosos e os motivos da adesão inicial. Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2009;23(4):319-334. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092009000400002.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509200900...
,2525 Andreotti MC, Okuma SS. Perfil sociodemográfico e de adesão inicial de idosos ingressantes em um programa de Educação Física. Rev Paul Educ Fís 2003;17(2):142-153.,2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
. The most common reasons for staying in the programs, though, have more to do with enjoyment of the activities, although health-related reasons do not completely disappear1919 Souza DL, Vendrusculo R. Fatores determinantes para a continuidade da participação de idosos em programas de atividade física: a experiência dos participantes do projeto "Sem Fronteiras". Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2010;24(1):95-105. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092010000100009.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509201000...
,2020 Freitas CMSM, Santiago MS, Viana AT, Leão AC, Freyre C. Aspectos motivacionais que influenciam a adesão e manutenção de idosos a programas de exercícios físicos. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum 2007;9(1):92-100.,2222 Meurer ST, Benedetti TRB, Mazo, GZ. Fatores motivacionais de idosos praticantes de exercícios físicos: um estudo baseado na teoria da autodeterminação. Estud psicol 2012;17(2):299-303. DOI: 10.1590/S1413-294X2012000200014.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-294X201200...

23 Ribeiro, JAB, Cavalli AS, Cavalli MO, Pogorzelski LV, Prestes MR, Ricardo LIC. Adesão de idosos a programas de atividade física: motivação e significância. Rev Bras Ciênc Esporte 2012;34(4):969-984. DOI: 10.1590/S0101-32892012000400012.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0101-3289201200...
-2424 Manzano AB, Molina SF. Motivos de inscripción, permanencia y satisfacción en un programa de actividad física de mantenimiento para mujeres mayores. Cuadernos de Psicología del Deporte 2012;12(1):79-92.,2626 Salin MS, Virtuoso JF, Nepomuceno ASN, Weiers GG, GZM. Golden Age Gym: Reasons for entry, permanence and satisfaction among participating older adults. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum 2014;16(2):152-160. DOI: 10.5007/1980-0037.2014v16n2p152.
https://doi.org/10.5007/1980-0037.2014v1...

27 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
-2828 Gillette DB, Petrescu-Prahova M, Herting JR, Belza B. A pilot study of determinants of ongoing participation in enhancefitness: a community-based group exercise program for older Adults. J Geriatr Phys Ther 2015;38(4):194-201. DOI: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000041.
https://doi.org/10.1519/JPT.000000000000...
.

Reasons for Abandonment

Table 4 shows the main reasons that cause older people to abandon public exercise programs. Only two studies investigated the reasons for abandoning said programs and among those, there were personal issues such as muscle pain and family situations, but also those issues related to class schedule and quality1919 Souza DL, Vendrusculo R. Fatores determinantes para a continuidade da participação de idosos em programas de atividade física: a experiência dos participantes do projeto "Sem Fronteiras". Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2010;24(1):95-105. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092010000100009.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509201000...
,2828 Gillette DB, Petrescu-Prahova M, Herting JR, Belza B. A pilot study of determinants of ongoing participation in enhancefitness: a community-based group exercise program for older Adults. J Geriatr Phys Ther 2015;38(4):194-201. DOI: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000041.
https://doi.org/10.1519/JPT.000000000000...
.

Table 2
Description of studies included in the systematic review
Table 3
Description of the results of the studies included in the review of reasons for adherence
Table 4
Description of the results of the studies included in the revision of reasons for abandonment

Discussion

Most of the studies included in this systematic review investigated university extension programs and the sample tends to be smaller than in the studies that investigate publicly run programs. This difference between the sample dimensions can be explained by the fact that publicly run programs are usually conducted in open spaces such as public squares and tend to have greater visibility, as well as more available space than the programs that happen within universities, where elderly people traditionally don’t have much access. Universities, even public ones, tend to have more reserved and limited space. However, they normally have better infrastructure than public spaces, which can influence the reasons for adherence to the exercise programs cited by the participants. This notwithstanding, it is important to realize that these observations are only suppositions that come from having practical knowledge on the matter, as no consistent information was found in literature to support this analysis. Considering this, the reasons for adherence found in these studies must be analyzed with caution since, as they show a reduced number of participants such as in Andreotti and Okuma2222 Meurer ST, Benedetti TRB, Mazo, GZ. Fatores motivacionais de idosos praticantes de exercícios físicos: um estudo baseado na teoria da autodeterminação. Estud psicol 2012;17(2):299-303. DOI: 10.1590/S1413-294X2012000200014.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-294X201200...
, Pereira and Okuma2121 Pereira JRP, Okuma SS. O perfil dos ingressantes de um programa de educação física para idosos e os motivos da adesão inicial. Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2009;23(4):319-334. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092009000400002.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509200900...
and Souza and Vendrusculo1919 Souza DL, Vendrusculo R. Fatores determinantes para a continuidade da participação de idosos em programas de atividade física: a experiência dos participantes do projeto "Sem Fronteiras". Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2010;24(1):95-105. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092010000100009.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509201000...
, who each analyzed, respectively, the reasons given by 44, 54 and 10 subjects who benefited from a different kind of space and infrastructure than what normally occurs in public spaces.

Another aspect that is interesting to emphasize is the weekly frequency at which the activities are developed in the investigated programs, since this influences the programs’ quality and, thus, the way the participants view the programs. Of the ten investigated programs, only four have sessions at least three times a week, although two2323 Ribeiro, JAB, Cavalli AS, Cavalli MO, Pogorzelski LV, Prestes MR, Ricardo LIC. Adesão de idosos a programas de atividade física: motivação e significância. Rev Bras Ciênc Esporte 2012;34(4):969-984. DOI: 10.1590/S0101-32892012000400012.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0101-3289201200...
,2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
do not define exactly what their frequency is, informing instead that classes happen, respectively, from one to three times a week and from two to three times a week. Freitas et al.2020 Freitas CMSM, Santiago MS, Viana AT, Leão AC, Freyre C. Aspectos motivacionais que influenciam a adesão e manutenção de idosos a programas de exercícios físicos. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum 2007;9(1):92-100. does not offer this information at all.

According to the recommendations made by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)2929 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41(7):1510-1530. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0c95c.
https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0...
, the indication for elderly individuals is of about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention3030 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [Internet]. How much Physical Activity do Older Adults need? [Access on aug 2017]. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/index.htm.
https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/bas...
corroborates the ACSM’s recommendations and indicates that elderly people should, unless they have any physical limitations, do 150 minutes of moderate aerobic and strength training activities for the main muscle groups, with a frequency of two or more times a week. They also give the possibility of doing 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity instead of 150 minutes of moderate activity3030 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [Internet]. How much Physical Activity do Older Adults need? [Access on aug 2017]. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/index.htm.
https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/bas...
; something which is only followed by part of the analyzed programs, more specifically by the four that offer physical exercise at least three times a week2222 Meurer ST, Benedetti TRB, Mazo, GZ. Fatores motivacionais de idosos praticantes de exercícios físicos: um estudo baseado na teoria da autodeterminação. Estud psicol 2012;17(2):299-303. DOI: 10.1590/S1413-294X2012000200014.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-294X201200...
,2424 Manzano AB, Molina SF. Motivos de inscripción, permanencia y satisfacción en un programa de actividad física de mantenimiento para mujeres mayores. Cuadernos de Psicología del Deporte 2012;12(1):79-92.,2626 Salin MS, Virtuoso JF, Nepomuceno ASN, Weiers GG, GZM. Golden Age Gym: Reasons for entry, permanence and satisfaction among participating older adults. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum 2014;16(2):152-160. DOI: 10.5007/1980-0037.2014v16n2p152.
https://doi.org/10.5007/1980-0037.2014v1...
,2828 Gillette DB, Petrescu-Prahova M, Herting JR, Belza B. A pilot study of determinants of ongoing participation in enhancefitness: a community-based group exercise program for older Adults. J Geriatr Phys Ther 2015;38(4):194-201. DOI: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000041.
https://doi.org/10.1519/JPT.000000000000...
.

One issue to be considered when studying old people’s adherence to exercise programs has to do with socioeconomic factors. Medeiros et al.2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
, Ribeiro et al.2323 Ribeiro, JAB, Cavalli AS, Cavalli MO, Pogorzelski LV, Prestes MR, Ricardo LIC. Adesão de idosos a programas de atividade física: motivação e significância. Rev Bras Ciênc Esporte 2012;34(4):969-984. DOI: 10.1590/S0101-32892012000400012.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0101-3289201200...
and Pereira and Okuma2121 Pereira JRP, Okuma SS. O perfil dos ingressantes de um programa de educação física para idosos e os motivos da adesão inicial. Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2009;23(4):319-334. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092009000400002.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509200900...
found a greater number of participants who belong to the middle and upper classes, possibly due to a connection existing between schooling, monthly income and regular physical activity, even in free programs, as Andreotti and Okuma2525 Andreotti MC, Okuma SS. Perfil sociodemográfico e de adesão inicial de idosos ingressantes em um programa de Educação Física. Rev Paul Educ Fís 2003;17(2):142-153. remind us in their study.

Another important point within the socioeconomic context that also tends to influence individuals’ permanence in physical exercise programs has to do with the individual’s previous life. Pereira and Okuma2121 Pereira JRP, Okuma SS. O perfil dos ingressantes de um programa de educação física para idosos e os motivos da adesão inicial. Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2009;23(4):319-334. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092009000400002.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509200900...
conducted their study in a university extension program called Physical Activity Autonomy Program for the Aged (Programa Autonomia para Atividade Física para Idosos) from São Paulo University (USP) - SP/Brazil, which offers practical classes of many types, such as gymnastics and relaxation, alongside theoretical lessons on health-related subjects. Through a socioeconomic questionnaire, the authors found out that most of the 54 interviewed participants entered the program with the objective of ‘improving their physical condition’, ‘acquiring knowledge’ and ‘improving their health’. These objectives represent 69% of the participants’ responses. Besides that, the study showed that most of the participants (81.5%) had already done at least one type of physical activity before entering the program and had been gainfully employed throughout their adult life (83%), which shows that a productive and physically active way of life tends to make exercise adherence easier at advanced ages.

In an earlier study about the same program, Andreotti and Okuma2525 Andreotti MC, Okuma SS. Perfil sociodemográfico e de adesão inicial de idosos ingressantes em um programa de Educação Física. Rev Paul Educ Fís 2003;17(2):142-153. also investigated the sociodemographic profile and the reasons for entry given by program participants in 1999, with a sample of 44 old people (32 women and 12 men). It is important to note that the authors encountered very different results. Only ‘improving their health’ appeared as a reason in common between both studies, which shows a change in values between both sample groups. This difference can be explained by a movement that has been encouraging elderly people to take up physical activity, which is something that has been on the road to change since the end of the 1970s, when the Commerce Social Service (Serviço Social do Comércio - SESC in portuguese) started the whole process3131 Telles SCC. A construção do campo do conhecimento sobre as atividades físicas para idosos no Brasil. [Tese de Doutorado em Educação Física]. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Gama Filho. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Educação Física; 2008.. Initially, the idea was that this populational group should have access to activities that were less vigorous and more social3232 Telles SCC, Reis RM, Alves Junior ED, Mourão L. Elementos sobre a configuração do campo das atividades físicas para idosos no Brasil. Licere 2015;18(2):154-192. DOI: 10.35699/1981-3171.2015.1106.
https://doi.org/10.35699/1981-3171.2015....
, while nowadays the recommendation is for activities that range from moderate to intense2929 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41(7):1510-1530. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0c95c.
https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0...
that have more to do with physical conditioning, one of the reasons indicated in Pereira and Okuma’s study2121 Pereira JRP, Okuma SS. O perfil dos ingressantes de um programa de educação física para idosos e os motivos da adesão inicial. Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2009;23(4):319-334. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092009000400002.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509200900...
.

Another interesting angle on the study conducted by Pereira and Okuma2121 Pereira JRP, Okuma SS. O perfil dos ingressantes de um programa de educação física para idosos e os motivos da adesão inicial. Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2009;23(4):319-334. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092009000400002.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509200900...
has to do with schooling and the participants’ professions. Most of the interviewees had at least a high school diploma, or even a college degree. This shows the influence of schooling on exercise adherence, something that was confirmed in the study conducted by Medeiros et al.2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
. Most of the men and women were professionally active throughout their lives, mainly in liberal professions and teaching positions, while only 22% of the female interviewees were housewives. The authors inferred that women with a higher level of schooling that had some sort of employment away from home had a greater probability of looking for a physical activity group. Going along with this result, Mazo et al.3333 Mazo GZ, Mota J, Gonçalves LHT, Matos MG. Nível de atividade física, condições de saúde e características sócio-demográficas de mulheres idosas brasileiras. Rev Port Cien Desp 2005;5(2):202-212. found in their study, which was about the activity level of elderly Brazilian women, that the lower their level of schooling was, the lower their level of physical activity tended to be.

The influence of social context should also be considered regarding the different participation levels of men and women. With the exception of Medeiros et al.2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
, who only included men in their study, most samples from the remaining studies contained mainly women, something that can be considered a representation of exercise programs for the elderly in general. This can be explained due to the fact that the investigated programs are free and publicly-run and that most of them offer group gymnastics which, according to Barbosa3434 Barbosa CRM. Saúde, qualidade de vida e envelhecimento: a inclusão do homem idoso em programas para terceira idade. [Dissertação de Mestrado em Educação Física]. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Educação Física; 2003., discourages male participation. For the author, the way men interact with their agin process is constructed from the representations of masculinity present in society, leading to a smaller male participation in elderly socialization groups. Reinforcing this thought, Mello and Votre3535 Mello JG, Votre SJ. Fatores que interferem na participação de homens idosos em programas de esporte e lazer. Pensar prát 2013;16(4):956-1270. DOI: 10.5216/rpp.v16i4.22101.
https://doi.org/10.5216/rpp.v16i4.22101...
affirm that elderly men tend to be ashamed of working with women in exercise programs of this type due to their own representations of masculinity, as they consider gymnastics to be a typically female activity. Also, Goggin and Morrow Junior3636 Goggin NL, Morrow JR. Physical Activity Behaviors of Older Adults. J Aging Phys Act 2001;9(1):58-66. Salgado CDS. Mulher idosa: a feminização da velhice. Estud Interdiscip Envelhec 2002;4:7-19. DOI: 10.1123/japa.9.1.58.
https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.9.1.58...
state that women have a greater tendency to value group work and, as such, to join supervised exercise programs. It is also important to consider the phenomenon of old-age feminization, shown by Salgado3737 Salgado CDS. Mulher idosa: a feminização da velhice. Estud Interdiscip Envelhec 2002;4:7-19., who mentions that women are the majority of elderly populations around the world, mostly due to gender inequality in life expectancy, with women living longer than men. There are, in fact, more women than men in these programs, which means that strategies must be constructed to increase male participation in physical activity programs.

Relating to the reasons given for entry and adherence to public exercise programs, Freitas et al.2020 Freitas CMSM, Santiago MS, Viana AT, Leão AC, Freyre C. Aspectos motivacionais que influenciam a adesão e manutenção de idosos a programas de exercícios físicos. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum 2007;9(1):92-100. conducted their study with two different programs. One of them was the City Gym (Academia da Cidade in Portuguese), run by the city of Recife - PE, Brazil. The other program was called Master Life (Master Vida in Portuguese), a university extension program run by Pernambuco University / Brazil, and had a more academic approach. Regarding reasons for entry in these programs, most answers had to do with health, such as ‘to improve my health’, ‘to adopt a healthy lifestyle’, ‘to follow my doctor’s advice’ and ‘to recover from an injury’. As for ‘maintaining my health’ having been a reason given by all participants to justify remaining in the projects, other aspects also come to our attention such as ‘well-being’, ‘posture’, ‘increase in strength’, ‘staying in shape’ and ‘receiving encouragement’.

In general, health-related reasons are present in all of the analyzed studies and tend to dominate the list of reasons for entry in this type of project, which reasons related to socialization are most important among those given to justify remaining in a program. This change of spirit among informants can also be observed in the studies of Meurer, Benedette and Mazo2222 Meurer ST, Benedetti TRB, Mazo, GZ. Fatores motivacionais de idosos praticantes de exercícios físicos: um estudo baseado na teoria da autodeterminação. Estud psicol 2012;17(2):299-303. DOI: 10.1590/S1413-294X2012000200014.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-294X201200...
and Souza and Vendrusculo1919 Souza DL, Vendrusculo R. Fatores determinantes para a continuidade da participação de idosos em programas de atividade física: a experiência dos participantes do projeto "Sem Fronteiras". Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2010;24(1):95-105. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092010000100009.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509201000...
.

In the investigation conducted by Salin et al.2727 Medeiros PA, Streit IA, Sandreschi PF, Fortunato AR, Mazo GZ. Participação masculina em modalidades de atividades físicas de um Programa para idosos: Um estudo longitudinal. Ciênc Saúde Colet 2014;19(8):3479-3488. DOI: 10.1590/1413-81232014198.16252013.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232014198...
, the indicators of entry and adherence were separated into intrinsic reasons (which stem from the person’s own interests and desires) and extrinsic ones (generated by environmental stimuli, situations and factors that are externally generated). The results of this study reveal that the main intrinsic reason to justify the elderly people’s entrance in the exercise program was the ‘search for health’, while ‘doctor’s orders’, ‘socialization’ and ‘incentive given by others’ were shown as the main extrinsic reasons that explained the participants’ adherence.

Another way of categorizing the factors that influence elderly people’s participation in physical exercise programs can be seen in Gilette et al.2828 Gillette DB, Petrescu-Prahova M, Herting JR, Belza B. A pilot study of determinants of ongoing participation in enhancefitness: a community-based group exercise program for older Adults. J Geriatr Phys Ther 2015;38(4):194-201. DOI: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000041.
https://doi.org/10.1519/JPT.000000000000...
. The authors separated the reasons into the ‘Motivators’ and ‘Barriers’ groups and mailed questionnaires to participants and ex-participants of the Enhance Fitness project in the United States of America. By comparing the amount of times each reason was marked by the survey’s participants and ex-participants, they were able to verify that those who had adhered to the program tended to mark the motivators such as ‘I like physical activity’ and ‘belief in exercise’s health benefits’ more than they marked barriers such as ‘class difficulty’ and ‘illness’, which were more commonly marked by the program’s ex-participants.

Just as Gilette et al.2828 Gillette DB, Petrescu-Prahova M, Herting JR, Belza B. A pilot study of determinants of ongoing participation in enhancefitness: a community-based group exercise program for older Adults. J Geriatr Phys Ther 2015;38(4):194-201. DOI: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000041.
https://doi.org/10.1519/JPT.000000000000...
, Souza and Vendrusculo1919 Souza DL, Vendrusculo R. Fatores determinantes para a continuidade da participação de idosos em programas de atividade física: a experiência dos participantes do projeto "Sem Fronteiras". Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2010;24(1):95-105. DOI: 10.1590/S1807-55092010000100009.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-5509201000...
also wanted to investigate the main reasons related to participant dropouts from the program they investigated. The authors found ‘illness’, ‘dislike for classes’ and ‘exercise-generated discomfort’ to be the main factors that led old people to abandon the project. Another barrier they found had to do with ‘family-related issues’ such as taking care of grandchildren.

In summation, the reasons for entry in physical exercise programs that were found by the studies that were analyzed here tend to be linked to health-related issues, but what determines participant adherence has more to do with pleasure, well-being and liking classes, something that has already been identified in other populations and types of programs3838 Castro MS, Miranda M, Silva NL, Palma A, Resende HG. Motivos de ingresso nos programas de exercício físicos oferecidos pelo Servic¸o Social do Comércio (Sesc-DF). Revista Movimento 2009;15:87-102. DOI: 10.22456/1982-8918.2519.
https://doi.org/10.22456/1982-8918.2519...
,3939 Castro MS, Silva NL, Monteiro W, Palma A, Resende HG. Motivos de permanência dos praticantes nos programas de exercícios físicos oferecidos pelo Serviço Social do Comércio - Brasil. Motri 2010;6(4):23-33.. This result indicates that the teacher’s methodology as well as how well the participants are treated at the class location are fundamental for keeping them in the program.

The relevance of this result cannot be denied, as it shows that old people are very worried about their health, considering that the consensus in literature (which is amply divulged by the media and by health care professionals) is that regular exercising can contribute to a healthier lifestyle in old age2929 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41(7):1510-1530. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0c95c.
https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0...
. However, health-related reasons alone may not be enough to bring about project adherence3838 Castro MS, Miranda M, Silva NL, Palma A, Resende HG. Motivos de ingresso nos programas de exercício físicos oferecidos pelo Servic¸o Social do Comércio (Sesc-DF). Revista Movimento 2009;15:87-102. DOI: 10.22456/1982-8918.2519.
https://doi.org/10.22456/1982-8918.2519...
,3939 Castro MS, Silva NL, Monteiro W, Palma A, Resende HG. Motivos de permanência dos praticantes nos programas de exercícios físicos oferecidos pelo Serviço Social do Comércio - Brasil. Motri 2010;6(4):23-33.. Thus, the quality of the exercise programs that are offered, as well as the actions of the Physical Education professionals, seem to be fundamental for this population's adherence to this type of activity.

As for the importance of these results, although the studies are of good methodological quality according to JBL, cautious interpretation is advised since the literature still leaves some important gaps, especially due to the small number of studies on the matter and the variety of non-validated instruments that were used for data collection. These factors can compromise the results’ reliability. Another aspect to be considered is that each study focuses on entry, adherence and abandonment through a different perspective. The data collection instruments have not been tested for reliability. Also, the small samples are another limiting factor and we urge caution in considering that these results may be considered in other contexts.

Despite the limitations, the knowledge of these results has an important practical implication since, when the elderly population’s characteristics are known, as well as the reasons for which they enter, remain and drop out of free exercise programs, it is possible to evaluate and adapt already existing programs, as well as direct the creation of new ones that fulfill the real demands of this population group, increasing adherence and reducing abandonment as much as possible.

Conclusion

The present study’s results show that health-related reasons, be they physical or mental, tend to be the main encouragement for old people to enter free and public exercise programs, while reasons related to socialization and the perception of exercise’s benefits are important as they help these people remain in the programs.

As for abandonment, it is important to emphasize the small number of studies about the reasons for abandoning regular physical exercise. This indicates the need for more studies that identify the barriers that stand in the way of maintaining this lifestyle. However, at least in the studies that are included in this revision, personal illness, dislike of the lessons and difficult classes, as well as muscle pain and family issues are all factors that greatly influence the decisions of the elderly population.

Acknowledgements:

The present study was conducted with the support of the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível de Superior (CAPES) - Brazil. 001 Financing Code

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    17 July 2020
  • Date of issue
    2020

History

  • Received
    21 Feb 2019
  • Reviewed
    30 Nov 2019
  • Accepted
    22 Feb 2020
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