UCL News


UCL researchers promote exercise for the over 65s

19 May 2009


Elderly couple walking ucl.ac.uk/pcph" target="_self">Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health
  • National Institute of Health Research
  • UCL researchers are promoting exercise for people aged 65 and over as part of a new NHS-funded project.

    Staff at the Research Department of Primary Care & Population Health (PCPH) want patients registered with North West and North Central London GP surgeries to participate in the project.

    For six months, these people will either continue with their normal level of exercise, enrol in a group exercise class at a local community centre or start a course of home exercises. The research team will then keep in touch with the participants to follow their progress.

    The main aim is to increase levels of physical activity to the recommended target of at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity five times a week, and to sustain this level over a period of time. The best exercise is walking, and the project includes exercises that should help people with walking and getting around.

    There are many benefits to health from exercise, including improved balance, greater muscle strength, stronger bones, greater confidence, better quality of life, improved mood and more enjoyment, better posture and fewer falls.

    The exercise classes will be delivered by specially trained exercise instructors and the exercises carried out at home will be supported by active people aged 65 and over, called 'peer mentors', who encourage people to keep up the exercise programme and to do more walking.

    Dr. Steve Iliffe, Professor of Primary Care for Older People at UCL, said: "Exercise can add years to life and life to years, and you are never too old to do it. Even people who struggle to get out of the house can become more active, with training and support. This project will test which methods of training and support are best, and measure how long people keep up a healthy new habit of walking."

    The project is seeking more peer mentors to help in areas of North West and North Central London, particularly Barnet, Brent, Hounslow and Westminster. If you are physically active and aged 65 or over, interested in the project and would like to know more about being a peer mentor, please contact Zoe Stevens on 020 7794 0500 ext 36723 or email.

    The ProAct65+ trial is funded by the Health Technology Assessment programme of the National Institute of Health Research.

    Image: an elderly couple walking through a park.


    UCL context

    The Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health's strategic aim is to deliver high quality teaching in community-based primary care and public health and to undertake a programme of internationally competitive multi-disciplinary research addressing the management and prevention of disease in individuals and populations in areas of priority to the health of the public.

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