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Helping older people stay stronger for longer

May 2012 - December 2015

Live project

Summary

There is a lack of awareness of the UK CMO (Chief Medical Officers’) physical activity guidelines for older adults (65+ years), even among exercise and fitness professionals.

With a growing older population there is a challenge to ensure that older people stay fitter and healthier for longer. Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University are developing new ways to monitor the health and well-being of the older community, including the functional fitness MOT.

This fitness test and exercise programme is designed to measure and improve balance, strength and stamina among older people thereby reducing the chance of falls and improving overall quality of life, particularly among the fastest growing age-group in the population, those over 85, also known as the oldest old. 

This involves working closely with a number of academic and community partners, GCU staff having co-hosted the 8th World Congress in Active Ageing with the BHF National Centre for Physical Activity and Health in 2012 and having worked closely with community group Reaching Older Adults in Renfrewshire, as featured in the above video.

Researchers have also received European funding to disseminate much of this expertise across Europe as part of the Euro £1 million ProFouND (Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination) project.

In a linked piece of work, academics are also highlighting active ageing through events such as Sporting Senior Games, which saw elderly people from Charleston, West Virginia compete in a series of events against care home residents from throughout Scotland.

 

Impact

Researchers working in the field of healthy ageing at GCU have helped older people to maintain their independence, improve quality of life and increase activity levels.

Their research aims to embed evidence-based fall prevention programmes for at risk older people, reducing the number of falls each year and lengthening the active and healthy part of the average older person’s life. 

A published Impact Report from the Functional Fitness MOT training that the BHF National Centre for Physical Activity and Health ran, based on the original Functional Fitness MOT awareness work that GCU undertook, found that the Functional Fitness MOT training programme has to-date reached over 350 physical activity, health, exercise and fitness and active ageing professionals across the UK in its first year (Summer 2013 – Summer 2014).

A follow-up evaluation survey amongst 135 professionals indicates that 27% have since organised an MOT event with the public (reach of over 600 older people), and 32% are planning to hold an MOT event in the next six months. Most MOT events attract up to 20 people, but some local agencies have been successful in holding events with as many as 90 participants in one day.

Staff Involved

“This work helps older people to identify how making small changes can make a big difference to health and wellbeing.”

Nicola Hanssen, Manager, Reaching Older Adults in Renfrewshire