Category: Research

Chicago Tribune | Exercise linked to fewer memory problems in breast cancer survivors

Featuring EPL alumna, Siobhan Phillips!


Breast cancer survivors who exercised more were less likely to report memory problems in a new study by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The study looked at moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, such as brisk walking, biking and jogging, and complaints of memory problems, which are common among breast cancer survivors. The authors found that physical activity was linked to lower levels of distress and fatigue, which in turn were associated with fewer reported memory problems. Continue.

Gothe, N.P., Wójcicki, T.R., Olson, E.A., Fanning, J., Awick, E.A., Chung, H.D., Zuniga, K.E.,  Mackenzie, M.J., Motl, R.W., & McAuley, E. (2015). Physical activity levels and patterns in older adults: the influence of a DVD-based exercise program. J Behav Med, doi: 10.1007/s10865-014-9581-6.

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Abstract: The use of multimedia to influence health behaviors offers unique advantages over more traditional center-based programs, however, little is known about the effectiveness of such approaches in improving physical activity levels over time. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of a progressive and age-appropriate, DVD-delivered exercise program in promoting physical activity levels among older adult cohorts. Community dwelling older adults (N = 307, Mean age = 71 years) were randomized to one of two groups: a 6-month home-based DVD-delivered exercise (i.e., FlexToBa™) intervention group or a healthy aging DVD control group. Physical activity was assessed objectively using a standard 7-day accelerometer wear period and subjectively using the Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire, at baseline and follow-up. Analysis of covariances indicated a statistically significant treatment effect for subjectively [F(1,250) = 8.42, P = .004, η(2) = .03] and objectively [F(1,240) = 3.77, P = .05, η(2) = .02] measured physical activity. The older cohort (>70) in the FlexToBa condition further had significantly larger improvements in physical activity levels compared to their younger counterparts. From a public health perspective, media-delivered interventions such as the FlexToBa program might prove to be cost-effective, have a broader reach and at the same time be effective in improving physical activity levels in older adults.

Wójcicki, T.R., Grigsby-Toussaint, D., Hillman, C.H., Huhman, M., McAuley, E. (2014). Promoting physical activity in low-active adolescents via Facebook: a pilot randomized controlled trial to test feasibility. JMIR Research Protocols, 3(4):e56

logo_SMART_textBackground: The World Wide Web is an effective method for delivering health behavior programs, yet major limitations remain (eg, cost of development, time and resource requirements, limited interactivity). Social media, however, has the potential to deliver highly customizable and socially interactive behavioral interventions with fewer constraints. Thus, the evaluation of social media as a means to influence health behaviors is warranted. Objective: The objective of this trial was to examine and demonstrate the feasibility of using an established social networking platform (ie, Facebook) to deliver an 8 week physical activity intervention to a sample of low-active adolescents (N=21; estimated marginal mean age 13.48 years). Methods: Participants were randomized to either an experimental (ie, Behavioral) or attentional control (ie, Informational) condition. Both conditions received access to a restricted-access, study-specific Facebook group where the group’s administrator made two daily wall posts containing youth-based physical activity information and resources. Primary outcomes included physical activity as assessed by accelerometry and self-report. Interactions and main effects were examined, as well as mean differences in effect sizes. Results: Analyses revealed significant improvements over time on subjectively reported weekly leisure-time physical activity (F1,18=8.426, P=.009, η2 = .319). However, there was no interaction between time and condition (F1,18=0.002, P=.968, η2 = .000). There were no significant time or interaction effects among the objectively measured physical activity variables. Examination of effect sizes revealed moderate-to-large changes in physical activity outcomes. Conclusions: Results provide initial support for the feasibility of delivery of a physical activity intervention to low-active adolescents via social media. Whether by employing behavioral interventions via social media can result in statistically meaningful changes in health-related behaviors and outcomes remains to be determined.

Wójcicki, T.R., Fanning, J., Awick, E.A., Olson, E.A., Motl, R.W., & McAuley, E. (2014). Maintenance effects of a DVD-delivered exercise intervention on physical function in older adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu188.

1flextobaBackground: Exercise training has been demonstrated to enhance physical function and to have a protective effect against functional limitations and disability in older adults. Purpose: The objective of this study was to determine whether the effects of a home-based, DVD-delivered exercise intervention on functional performance and limitations were maintained 6-month postintervention termination. Methods: Follow-up assessments of functional performance and limitations were conducted in a sample of community-dwelling older adults (N = 237) who participated in a 6-month randomized controlled exercise trial. Participants were initially randomized to a DVD-delivered exercise intervention or an attentional control condition. The Short Physical Performance Battery, measures of flexibility and strength, and functional limitations were assessed immediately before and after the intervention and then again 6 months later. Analyses of covariance were conducted to examine changes in physical function between the two conditions at the end of the intervention to 6-month follow-up. Results: There were statistically significant adjusted group differences in the Short Physical Performance Battery (η2 = 0.03, p = .01), upper-body strength (η2 = 0.03, p = .005), and lower-body flexibility (η2 = 0.02, p = .05), indicating that gains brought about by the intervention were maintained 6 months later. Conclusions: A DVD-delivered exercise program specifically designed to target elements of functional fitness in older adults can produce clinically meaningful gains in physical function that are maintained beyond intervention cessation.

News Bureau Illinois | Study suggests hatha yoga boosts brain function in older adults

Featuring EPL alumna, Neha Gothe!


Practicing hatha yoga three times a week for eight weeks improved sedentary older adults’ performance on cognitive tasks that are relevant to everyday life, researchers report. The findings involved 108 adults between the ages of 55 and 79 years of age, 61 of whom attended hatha yoga classes. The others met for the same number and length of sessions and engaged in stretching and toning exercises instead of yoga. At the end of the eight weeks, the yoga group was speedier and more accurate on tests of information recall, mental flexibility and task-switching than it had been before the intervention. Continue.

Wave 4 of REWinD walking exercise wrapped up last night. Wave 5 starts this coming Monday, August 26th! 


The 4th Wave of The Regulating Efficacy and Wellness in Diabetes (REWinD) Trial is now underway! To learn more about this trial and see if you qualify for Wave 5, click here.


Science Daily | A 20-minute bout of yoga stimulates brain function immediately after


Researchers report that a single, 20-minute session of Hatha yoga significantly improved participants’ speed and accuracy on tests of working memory and inhibitory control, two measures of brain function associated with the ability to maintain focus and take in, retain and use new information. Participants performed significantly better immediately after the yoga practice than after moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Continue.


HHS HealthBeat | Seniors home exercise

Working out with a safe and sensible exercise DVD can do a senior good. At the University of Illinois, Edward McAuley tested a DVD program that focused on flexibility, toning and balance.

McAuley says most of the 307 seniors stayed with it over the six months of the study, and did about as much work as the program required.  And he says physical tests showed they wound up in better shape. Continue.

Science Daily | Older Adults Benefit from Home-Based DVD Exercise Program


Fitness DVDs are a multimillion-dollar business, and those targeting adults over the age of 55 are a major part of the market. With names like “Boomers on the Move,” “Stronger Seniors” and “Ageless Yoga,” the programs promise much, but few have ever been rigorously tested. “There are tons of DVDs out there, 20 percent of them are purchased by older adults, and with few exceptions there is no evidence that they work,” said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley, who led a new study testing the efficacy of a home-based DVD exercise program for people 65 and older. Continue.