A ‘simple’ solution to boost physical activity among elderly


Encouraging the elderly to move more and sit less can have a profound impact on their overall healthcare.

Now, a study by health scientists at Kobe University in Japan reveals that self-monitoring physical activity using a simple device called an accelerometer, coupled with feedback, can significantly enhance the physical activity of elderly individuals requiring long-term care.

The study, published in the journal European Geriatric Medicine, involved 52 participants from a daycare centre for long-term care patients. Half of the participants were provided with accelerometers to track their steps, sitting time, and various activity levels. Additionally, they were encouraged to set goals, monitor their progress daily, and receive weekly feedback and advice.

Over the course of five weeks, the group that engaged in self-monitoring and received feedback showed remarkable improvements. They increased their daily steps from an average of 1268 to 1683, spent less time sitting, and engaged in more light physical activity compared to the control group.

Dr. Kazuhiro Izawa, one of the researchers, explained, “Older people with long-term care needs have reduced mobility and activity compared to healthy older people, so increasing physical activity is not easy.”

The study also found a correlation between reduced sedentary behaviour and increased moderate to vigorous physical activity, highlighting the importance of addressing both aspects in promoting overall activity levels.

While the study’s five-week duration was too short to assess long-term health benefits, the findings provide valuable insights into effective strategies for enhancing physical activity among the elderly. Dr Izawa emphasised the need for future research to explore larger sample sizes, broader activities, and long-term follow-up to confirm the sustained effectiveness of such interventions.

In essence, by incorporating self-monitoring and feedback into daily routines, elderly individuals can take proactive steps towards improving their health and overall well-being.

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