Date of Publication

Spring 1-17-2018


Introduction. Physical activity programs for older adults help to improve physical, social, and emotional health and reduce impairments in activities of daily living1. In Chittenden county, less than 1⁄3 of older adults participate in programs, while 48% report that they would like to exercise more. Our aim was to identify barriers to participation in physical activity programs by older adults in Chittenden county, such as accessibility, transportation, health, affordability, and social isolation, and to identify strategies to overcome these barriers.

Methods. 144 paper and electronic surveys were administered in Chittenden County, Vermont to assess use of group programs among older adults aged ≥ 50 years including transportation, motivation, preferences, advertisement, and barriers to access. A focus group explored aspects of ideal group activities for seniors.

Results. 87.9% of respondents were active for two or more hours each week, while 46.5% had participated in group programming in the past 6 months. Group par- ticipation was significantly higher among physically active respondents (p=0.020). Motivators for participation in group activity included health benefits, social aspects, and physical activity, while the most cited barrier to attendance was timing conflicts. Respondents received information about programming via word of mouth, email, and online resources.

Discussion. Overall, our findings indicate that the majority of respondents are highly active, however, they frequently experience barriers that prevent them from participating in group programming. We recommend offering flexible scheduling, advertising programming via word of mouth and email, and emphasizing program health benefits.


Stephen Everse

UVM Larner College of Medicine

Doug Bishop

Greater Burlington (VT) YMCA


Older Adults, Physical Activity

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Eliminating Barriers: Connecting Seniors to Services in Chittenden County