Keeping active: maintenance of physical activity in older people after an exercise intervention
1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016
Project No: 264
Funding round: FR 9
To stay healthy, it is recommended that older adults do regular aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity and that people at risk of falls e.g. with weak legs, poor balance and some medical conditions, should exercise to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week. This helps maintain mental agility, reduces the risk of conditions such as diabetes, helps people carry out their daily living activities and reduces the risk of falling. With an aging population, encouraging sustained physical activity is becoming increasingly important, helping people stay independent for longer and reducing healthcare costs.
We have previously undertaken a study to assess the impact of group-based physical activity programmes to strengthen muscles and improve balance for older people. Overall the programmes increased physical activity and reduced the number of falls during the study period but not everyone continued this increased activity after the study ended. Currently little is known about what factors are important in helping people maintain increased physical activity after participating in these types of programmes and understanding this will help us increase the longer-term benefits.
We will use information collected in our earlier study that has not yet been analysed to assess whether factors such as: risk of falls, quality of life, fear of falling, baseline physical activity, social networks, attitudes and beliefs about physical activity are more or less common in people that did and did not continue to be physically active up to 2 years later. In addition, we will undertake interviews with approximately 30 people who participated in the earlier study to explore their views on important factors that helped (or hindered) their continued activity.
Findings from this work will help researchers develop and evaluate methods to promote continuation of exercise after the end of structured strength and balance-promoting programmes for older people.