• physical activity;
  • primary healthcare;
  • randomized;
  • controlled trial;
  • older people

OBJECTIVES: To assess the long-term effectiveness of a telephone counseling intervention on physical activity and health-related quality of life in low-active older adults recruited through their primary care physician.

DESIGN: Randomized, controlled trial.

SETTING: Three primary care practices from different socioeconomic regions of Auckland, New Zealand.

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred and eighty-six low-active adults (aged 65) recruited from their primary care physicians' patient databases.

INTERVENTION: Eight telephone counseling sessions over 12 weeks based on increasing physical activity. Control patients received usual care.

MEASUREMENTS: Change in physical activity (as measured using the Auckland Heart Study Physical Activity Questionnaire) and quality of life (as measured using the Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36)) over a 12-month period.

RESULTS: Moderate leisure physical activity increased by 86.8 min/wk more in the intervention group than in the control group (P=.007). More participants in the intervention group reached 2.5 hours of moderate or vigorous leisure physical activity per week after 12 months (42% vs 23%, odds ratio=2.9, 95% confidence interval=1.33–6.32, P=.007). No differences on SF-36 measures were observed between the groups at 12 months.

CONCLUSION: Telephone-based physical activity counseling is effective at increasing physical activity over 12 months in previously low-active older adults.