Outcomes of a Peer Mentor Implemented Fitness Program in Older Adults: A Quasi-Randomized Controlled Trial

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Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness of different applications of mentoring in an older adult exercise program, this study compared the physical fitness scores, the retention and participation rates of older adults trained by student mentors, peer mentors, peer mentors working independently of the researchers, and a non-exercising control group. Methods: 106 older adults were recruited and assigned to one of the groups using quasi-randomization. All three experimental groups completed a 14-week intervention. Pre- and post-training assessments of fitness were completed, and retention and participation rates were compared. Results: High retention and participation rates, as well as significant improvements in fitness scores from baseline to post-test were observed in all three mentored groups. While the control group showed improvement only in one fitness test, subjects in the mentored groups improved similarly in all measures, regardless of the type of mentoring received. Discussion: These findings indicated effectiveness of the peer mentor model and suggested that with adequate preparation peer mentors may be capable of guiding older adult participants effectively without assistance from professional staff.

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