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The Leveraging Exercise to Age in Place (LEAP) Study: Engaging Older Adults in Community-Based Exercise Classes to Impact Loneliness and Social Isolation



Social isolation and loneliness are associated with morbidity and mortality in older adults. Limited evidence exists regarding which interventions improve connectedness in this population.


In this pre-post study we assessed community-based group health class participants' (age ≥50) loneliness and social isolation. Participants (n = 382) were referred by a Cedars-Sinai Medical Network (Los Angeles, California) healthcare provider or self-referred from the community (July 2017-March 2020).


Participants met with a program coordinator and selected Arthritis Exercise, Tai Chi for Arthritis, EnhanceFitness, or the Healthier Living Workshop.


We measured social isolation using the Duke Social Support Index (DSSI) and loneliness using the UCLA 3-item Loneliness Scale at baseline, class completion, and 6 months.


Mean age was 76.8 years (standard deviation, SD = 9.1); 315 (83.1%) were female; 173 (45.9%) were Non-Hispanic white; 143 (37.9%) were Non-Hispanic Black; 173 (46.1%) lived alone; mean baseline DSSI score was 26.9 (SD = 4.0) and mean baseline UCLA score was 4.8 (SD = 1.8). On multivariable analysis adjusted for gender, race/ethnicity, income, self-rated health, and household size, DSSI improved by 2.4% at 6-week compared to baseline (estimated ratio, ER: 1.024; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.010-1.038; p-value = 0.001), and 3.3% at 6-month (ER: 1.033; 95% CI: 1.016-1.050; p-value <0.001). UCLA score after adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, live alone, number of chronic conditions, income, and self-rated health, did not change at 6-week (ER: 0.994; 95% CI: 0.962-1.027; p-value = 0.713), but decreased by 6.9% at 6-months (ER: 0.931; 95% CI: 0.895-0.968; p-value <0.001).


Community-based group health class participants reported decreased loneliness and social isolation at 6-month follow-up.

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