Physical activity as a ‘career’: A lifecourse perspective

Twitter hashtag: #esrcAgePA


Seminar Series blog: Please visit the Schedule page and click on individual presentations to view the powerpoint slides from the day.

Four key issues arose from the days discussions.

‘Build it and they will come!’ (won’t they?): Beware of an often underlying assumption that leisure time physical activity is attractive and interesting to people. While individuals might be fully aware of the benefits of being physically active and have access to opportunities to participate, this does not necessarily translate into health behaviours. Given this, focusing attention more explicitly on active daily living (stair climbing, getting out the house etc.) across the life course cas opposed to engagement in sport or organised physical activity during certain periods might be more fruitful.

A holistic, participatory approach to healthy ageing across the life course: Some of the most successful programs (e.g. ‘Movers and Shakers’, Buckinghamshire are those that do not limit themselves to physical activity alone, but incorporate other aspects of healthy ageing (e.g. nutritional advice, social interaction). They are also generated and led from within the communities that they are intended to benefit. Activity initiatives with top-down design and delivery have not attracted people from lower socioeconomic groups, nor migrant populations.

From research… to practise (and back again): End users benefit when quality, mutually beneficial relationships exist between the research team and the stakeholder community. Methods by which to optimise this include; secondments, networking events to exchange information (such as the current seminar series!), and involving representatives from key user groups at the planning stage of any research project (as opposed to after the funding has been awarded).

Innovation and evidence There is a real appetite for new models of access, delivery and intervening to enhance the opportunities that people have to be active in older age to be explored and, most importantly, evaluated (the Penwith Pioneer Project, Newquay Cornwall being one such example ). Programme evaluation which is planned from the outset, appropriately financed, independent, and incorporates a divergent range of approaches and methodologies, is imperative to the continued delivery and, where appropriate, expansion of community based initiatives that can facilitate physical activity across the life course.


Our Partners / View all

A University of Exeter Medical School
AB European Centre for Environment & Human Health
AC University of Bath
Birmingham City Council

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