Category: Social and Community Context

27 - Fitness In The Parks: Bringing Excercise And Education To Older Adults To Promote Quality Of Life

Older adults are vulnerable to occupational deprivation when living independently in the community. Increased social isolation and physical disabilities can limit the available opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. In addition, traditional care facilities are not able to provide ongoing wellness services necessary to prevent further disability in the older adult population. In consideration of the limited resources available to community-dwelling older adults, the need arises for creative partnerships that develop sustainable models for integrating healthcare services with current, accessible resources in the community.

This study investigates the partnership between rehabilitation professionals and the local Department of Recreation and Parks to develop a wellness program for older adults called "Fitness in the Parks", which was delivered in community parks to any adult over 65. Fitness in the Parks integrates education and supervisied, individualized, excercise programs developed between participants and occupational and physical therapists to meet participant goals. Various educational programs are incorporated on a rotating basis to address typical needs of the community including falls prevention and diabetes management. The overall focus of the program is on increasing physical activity, confidence, and social interaction between participants. Pre and post surveys were conducted to evaluate changes in participant quality of life before and after the 6 week programs. Open-ended survey questions provided information on the strengths, weaknesses, benefits, and barriers to participating in the program in order to refine the procedures and develop a sustainable model of practice. Analysis revealed support for the use of this model of programming in the improvement of quality of life for community-dwelling, older adults. Implications for practice and scaling of the program are discussed.


Kayla Collins

Assistant Professor
University of St. Augustine
Elkton, Florida

Kayla Collins is an occupational therapist and assistant professor at the University of St. Augustine. She has worked with all age ranges and developed a variety of wellness programs for adults and children. She has a Doctorate of Education and promotes the development of community partnerships to provide quality care to the community while educating the next generation of physical and occupational therapy students.