More than 50% of U.S. adults do not engage in sufficient physical activity to meet current recommendations, making physical activity change and maintenance a priority for health promotion throughout adulthood. Among married partners, change in physical activity of one partner often is concordant with change of activity of the other. The primary purpose of this study was to examine two couple-focused interventions that capitalize on the co-occurrence of health behavior change within couples to promote physical activity in older adults. In this study, partners (N = 31 couples) participated together in assessment and intervention activities, and were randomized together into one of two couple-focused conditions. In one condition (concurrent), standard goal-setting techniques were extended to a couple-focused design with each partner setting daily step goals and monitoring her or his own progress. In the other condition (combined), partners collaborated to set and monitor shared daily step goals. Physical activity was assessed with accelerometers pre- and post-intervention. Post-intervention, average weekly physical activity increased by 58 min (p < 0.001), and average body mass index (BMI) decreased by 0.50 kg/m2 (p = 0.001), from pre-intervention measures. Similar levels of change in weekly physical activity and in BMI were detected in both intervention groups. Furthermore, participants demonstrated high adherence to the intervention protocol. Results suggest that couple-focused physical activity interventions can be effective in eliciting increases in physical activity among older adults. Further research is needed to uncover interpersonal mechanisms that maximize physical activity promotion and maintenance within couples over time.


This is the author accepted manuscript version of Franks, M; Richards, E; McDonough, M; Christ, S; & Marshall, M. (2018) "Walking for our health: couple-focused interventions to promote physical activity in older adults." International Journal of Health Promotion and Education. DOI: 10.1080/14635240.2018.1522266.


Couple-focused intervention, physical activity, aging, walking

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