Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Health Sciences


Dr. Patricia Schweickert


Engaging in physical activity can help older adults to take part in community activities, maintain relationships, and initiate new friendships, thus preventing loneliness and depression. The purpose of this quality improvement (QI) project was to evaluate whether participation in physical activity improved depressive symptoms in 15 older adults at a local senior center. Pender’s health promotion model was used to determine nursing and behavioral science views on components that affect health behavior. The Exercise Benefit/Barrier Scale (EBBS) survey was evaluated before implementation of the walking program to measure the benefits of and barriers to exercise. The EBBS results showed that participants perceived physical activity as beneficial with high percentages in the dimensions of physical performance (90%) and psychosocial aspects (76%). The leading barrier to exercise was fatigue (50%). The 15 elderly participants tracked physical activity by counting the number of steps a day over a 2-month period with a mean number of steps of 3,788/day. The Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) was administered before and after implementation of physical activity tracking to measure changes in mood and sadness over the past 2 weeks. Forty-seven percent of the participants had depressive symptoms before the program, compared to 13% after the program. Using descriptive statistics via percent difference, results revealed a 34% decrease in depressive symptoms in the program participants. Therefore, this QI project was successful in improving depressive symptoms among older adults. This project paves the way for positive social change through improved quality of life and improved physical/mental health outcomes for older adults who participate in a physical walking activity by decreasing depressive symptoms.