Comparing the effectiveness of peer mentoring and student mentoring in a 35-week fitness program for older adults
Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
To investigate the applicability and effectiveness of a peer-mentored exercise program, this study compared the retention and participation rates, and physical improvements of older adults trained by peer mentors (PM) to a group trained by young qualified student mentors (SM). A group of older adults were prepared as peer mentors through a 30-week preparation program. Later, 60 older adults (mean ± SD age: 68.7 ± 6.1 years) were recruited and randomly assigned to either the PM or SM group. Both groups completed an identical 35-week fitness program. Pre-, midterm- and post-training assessments of fitness were completed and rates of participation and retention were documented. The same retention rates were observed in the two groups, but SM group had higher participation. Both groups improved significantly in all measures of fitness and there were no significant post-test differences between the groups in the fitness measures. Findings suggest that the peer mentor model is applicable in an older adult exercise program and may be as effective as a program mentored by young professionals. © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.