Make the active choice, the easy choice.

Promoting Physical Activity in Older Adults:

A guide for local decision makers.

The AVONet Report represents one of the outcomes of a 12 month collaborative network in Avon (AVONet). The Report attempts to identify best bet physical activity promotion strategies for older adults through a synthesis of evidence and experience from diverse sources.

Who is it intended for? Physical activity co-ordinators and practitioners, community programme developers, health promoters, Directors of Public Health, members of local Health and Well – Being Boards and relevant policy makers.

How might it be used? To help decision makers and service providers:

  • Understand key issue around physical activity promotion for older adults
  • Understand the different approaches to physical activity promotion in older adults.
  • Develop activity promotion programmes in light of the new UK physical activity guidelines.
  • Convince authority of the need for action.

The Argument – There is plenty of scope for increasing the activity levels of older adults. While they have the most to gain, older adults in the UK have the lowest levels of physical activity compared to other age groups and also spend the largest amount of time of time being sedentary. Older adults are a neglected population when it comes to physical activity promotion and yet they are the fastest growing sector of our population. The challenge of finding and delivering the best community based solutions still remains.

Report Content: –

  • Section A:  Presents the case for physical activity.
  • Section B:  Summarises the key recommendations for physical activity (CMO 2011).
  • Section C:  Outlines the main population factors that currently influence how active and older person might be.
  • Section D:  Presents current evidence, theory and thinking on how we might motivate people to become more active.
  • Section E:   Presents descriptions of promising  approaches to active promotion ,
  • Section F: Offers insight into delivery of programmes covering recruitment, marketing, evaluation and partnership working.

Key Recommendations –

  • Physical activity priority 1: Promote getting out and about offering opportunities in the local communities.
  • Physical activity priority 2: Target functional ability and independence for people in transition by providing structured and focussed exercise programmes in a range of centres and facilities.
  • Physical activity priority 3: Make the active choice, the easy choice with age friendly modifications and adaptations of neighbourhoods.

To download a copy of the full report click here


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by Dan Keating

Thank you for making the report available. It contains a great deal of pragmatic ideas that should be promoted and will assist decision makers.
My one observation which I would like to contribute is there is little mention of dance choices and activities. Creative dance activity uses the whole being, benefitting mind, body, emotions, spirit, expression, and dancing alone and together in groups. It brings people together who share a common interest and who enjoy dancing together and so prevents isolation and breaks down social silos.. Those who take part benefit greatly. see as an example of good practice in Tottenham where the organisation is bringing local people together from different backgrounds. After 4 years we are going from strength to strength, and now have a performing group too. Active older people want choices and line dancing and ballroom dancing is not for all. Many women and some men are not sporty as your report states but dancing is as natural as breathing and with good dance artists and teachers many different styles and techniques where older people participate in the creation process and are fully involved working with dance leader is a wonderful way to promote preventative health activities. Creative dance activities should be able to be commissioned and get sufficient resources as the sessions raise the wellbeing of a neighbourhood and encourage others to dance too. Commissioners should include creative dance and other dance activities as ways to really benefit older people. For more details contact Jackie Richards details on the website mentioned.

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