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Volunteer-led physical activity interventions to improve health outcomes for community-dwelling older people: a systematic review
Lim SER, Cox NJ, Tan QY, Ibrahim K, Roberts HC
Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2020 Apr 30:Epub ahead of print
systematic review

BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) is important for older people to maintain functional independence and healthy ageing. There is strong evidence to support the benefits of physical activity interventions on the health outcomes of older adults. Nonetheless, innovative approaches are needed to ensure that these interventions are practical and sustainable. AIM: This systematic review explores the effectiveness of volunteer-led PA interventions in improving health outcomes for community-dwelling older people. METHODS: Five databases (Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PEDro, the Cochrane Library) were systematically searched for studies using trained volunteers to deliver PA interventions for community-dwelling older people aged >= 65 years. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to included study heterogeneity. RESULTS: Twelve papers describing eight studies (five papers reported different outcomes from the same study) were included in the review. All eight studies included strength and balance exercises and frequency of PA ranged from weekly to three times a week. Volunteer-led exercises led to improvements in functional status measured using the short physical performance battery, timed up and go test, Barthel Index, single leg stand, step touch test, chair stand test, and functional reach. Frailty status identified by grip strength measurement or the use of long-term care insurance improved with volunteer-led exercises. Interventions led to improvement in fear of falls and maintained or improved the quality of life. The impact on PA levels were mixed. CONCLUSION: Limited evidence suggests that volunteer-led PA interventions that include resistance exercise training, can improve outcomes of community-dwelling older adults including functional status, frailty status, and reduction in fear of falls. More high-quality RCTs are needed to investigate the effects of volunteer-led PA interventions among older people.

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