Profiles of physical activity in older adults: Project OPAL (Older people and active living)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Sch of App Community and Health Studies

Abstract

The recent Chief Medical Officer’s report established that physical activity is effective in reducing risk of disease and maintaining physical and mental function in later life. We know surprisingly little about the patterns of physical activity in older people and their determinants, although national surveys indicate that over 80% are insufficiently active for health. This research combines expertise in human geography, neighbourhood sociology, health psychology and exercise physiology to document physical activity patterns and their environmental and social determinants in urban dwelling older people. The participants are men and women aged 70 or over living in neighbourhoods of different levels of social deprivation and amenity provision. Physical activity patterns and levels are assessed using accelerometry, global positioning technology, and self-report. Questionnaires and interviews help us determine purposes of journeys, food purchasing habits, perceptions of neighbourhoods, barriers to activity and levels of mental well-being. Tests of functionality and tasks of daily living are undertaken to explore links with activity and life quality. Using geographical information systems, the influence of local amenities and services on patterns of movement is estimated. We believe that this multidisciplinary ecological approach will provide a unique vision and help provide vital information for directing public health initiatives.

Technical Summary

The recent Chief Medical Officer?s report on activity and health established that physical activity is effective in reducing risk of disease and maintaining physical and mental function in later life. We know very little about the levels, modes and patterns of physical activity in older people although national surveys indicate that over 80% are insufficiently active for health. Neighbourhoods are becoming less conducive to walking and cycling, with greater reliance on motorised transport, loss of local amenities and increased concerns for safety. We have a strong track record of funded research (NIH, CRUK, NHS, Diabetes UK) in many aspects of activity and health including our EU Better Ageing project, and BHF and CABE work on the effects of the changing environment on physical activity. From this, we propose to bring together expertise in human geography, neighbourhood sociology, exercise physiology, and primary care in order to document physical activity patterns and their environmental and social determinants in urban dwelling older people.
The focus will be men and women aged 70 or over living in neighbourhoods of different levels of social deprivation and amenity provision. Physical activity will be assessed using accelerometry, global positioning technology, which allow the objective assessment of levels and patterns of movement across time and space. Spheres of activity will be meshed with local land use data using geographical information systems to plot the influence of local amenities and services on patterns of movement. Questionnaires will be administered, and focus groups and interviews conducted to establish a) perceptions of older people about the influence of characteristics of the neighbourhood such as safety, risk, distance from recreational spaces, shops and other services, transport, housing, and social connectedness on their activity, and b) the effects of activity on psychological well-being and life quality. Tests of functionality and tasks of daily living will be undertaken to explore the links with activity,well-being and life quality. We believe that this multidisciplinary ecological approach will provide a unique vision that will help provide vital foundational information for directing public health initiatives.

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Davis MG (2011) Objectively measured physical activity in a diverse sample of older urban UK adults. in Medicine and science in sports and exercise

publication icon
Davis MG (2011) Getting out and about in older adults: the nature of daily trips and their association with objectively assessed physical activity. in The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity

publication icon
Stathi A (2012) Determinants of neighborhood activity of adults age 70 and over: a mixed-methods study. in Journal of aging and physical activity

publication icon
Stathi Afroditi (2012) CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR INCREASING DAILY ACTIVITY IN OLDER AGE in JOURNAL OF AGING AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

 
Description House of Lords Enquiry on Health Behaviour Change
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Member of obesity strategy advisory team for the Department of Health (Fox)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
 
Description UK Guidelines for Physical Activity Task force and writing team
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
Impact Results from OPAL have been fed into decision making about recommended activity for older adults. Published June 2011. Fox who is PI on OPAL was main author for the section on guidelines for physical activity of older people. Real examples from OPAL participants were used to illustrate. This document will influence physical activity promotion for older adults through key charities and stake holders.
 
Description Lifelong Health and Well-Being
Amount £38,446 (GBP)
Funding ID G0900040 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2009 
End 07/2010
 
Description OPAL PLUS (South West GP Trust Fund )
Amount £5,800 (GBP)
Organisation Leadership Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 12/2011
 
Description OPAL-PLUS:How have you been?
Amount £86,294 (GBP)
Funding ID R200/0511 
Organisation The Dunhill Medical Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2011 
End 01/2013
 
Title OPAL questionnaire 
Description New questionnaire to assess perceptions of the environment, and physical activity and lifestyle habits in UK adults aged 70 and above. It has been requested by various groups within the UK and also a pan-Europe group. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2009 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Has been included in other studies and in a grant proposal in review and if successful it will be applied to 2000 older adults in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. 
 
Description AVONet 
Organisation University of Bath
Department School of Health Bath
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Fox was a co-applicant along with all other OPAL co-applicants. We were organisers of three workshops, conducted literature searches, prepared three grant proposals, and produced a best bet physical activity promotion report.
Collaborator Contribution This is and MRC Lifelong Health and Well Being Research Collaborative which has directly arisen from our OPAL. Bath University was the employer of the principal investigator. We have kept the core OPAL team of co-applicants and added new expertise. It has taken our work forwards and allowed us to submit three research proposals to LLHW and a third is being prepared for a follow up OPAL and was submitted to the Dunhill Trust in February 2011. The proposal was funded. UWE were co-applicants. We have kept the core OPAL team of co-applicants and added new expertise.
Impact Final report to Lifelong Health and Well-Being currently being written for dissemination through a key ageing charity.
Start Year 2009
 
Description AVONet 
Organisation University of the West of England
Department Department of Health and Social Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Fox was a co-applicant along with all other OPAL co-applicants. We were organisers of three workshops, conducted literature searches, prepared three grant proposals, and produced a best bet physical activity promotion report.
Collaborator Contribution This is and MRC Lifelong Health and Well Being Research Collaborative which has directly arisen from our OPAL. Bath University was the employer of the principal investigator. We have kept the core OPAL team of co-applicants and added new expertise. It has taken our work forwards and allowed us to submit three research proposals to LLHW and a third is being prepared for a follow up OPAL and was submitted to the Dunhill Trust in February 2011. The proposal was funded. UWE were co-applicants. We have kept the core OPAL team of co-applicants and added new expertise.
Impact Final report to Lifelong Health and Well-Being currently being written for dissemination through a key ageing charity.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Age Action Alliance 
Organisation Age Action Alliance
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This group have become non academic partners to assist in dissemination of our research findings and our reports.
Collaborator Contribution Fox is Chair of a new scientific advisory panel for the Active Living theme
Impact None to date but discussions are underway about dissemination of a guidance report which is an output of AVONet
Start Year 2013
 
Description OPAL-PLUS: How have you been? A three year follow up study of OPAL participants 
Organisation University of Bath
Department School of Health Bath
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is the core of the OPAL team
Collaborator Contribution It has allowed us to keep the OPAL team together and provide valuable longitudinal data for further publications. It has been funded by the Dunhill Medical Research Trust R200/0511
Impact Two publications listed as in review in outputs. A third is in preparation.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Project ACE (Active, Connected and Engaged). 
Organisation University of Bath
Department School of Health Bath
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is primarily made up of the OPAL team
Collaborator Contribution This is a feasibility study for an intervention that has directly arisen from the OPAL and AVONet work It is funded by LLHW G1001864.
Impact Still in process
Start Year 2011
 
Description Invited presentation, National Coalition of Active Aging Forum meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The activity involved Professor Ken Fox presenting interim findings of Project OPAL to the National Coalition of Active Aging Board. This group are the non academic partners of the project. Questions were answered and a discussion of implications of findings for design and delivery of activity programmes for older people were drawn. NCAA continue to be our partners in further funded work.

None to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Ageing Well in the workplace workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Attendance to discuss the role of workplace in promoting health in people around retirement age

Discussions and working groups around research proposals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description BHF conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact 200 people attended the talk. Powerpoint made available on their website

Many enquiries about the project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Bristol's Festival of Ageing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lay dissemination of key OPAL findings at Bristol's annual festival for older people: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/press/health-and-adult-care/get-set-go-celebrating-age-festival-launches-bristol. Large exhibition stand alongside NHS public health stands (June 2012).

Exhibition stand commissioned for future use for OPAL and OPAL+ dissemination opportunities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.bristol.gov.uk/press/health-and-adult-care/get-set-go-celebrating-age-festival-launches-b...
 
Description British Society of Gerontology 41st annual conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Paper Presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact 'Physical activity in community-dwelling older adults: lessons learned from the Older People and Active Living Project,' in Physical activity promotion: current issues and developments (with Horne M, Newton R, Nyman SR.) (Keele, July).

Invited symposium.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description European College of Sport Science Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact OPAL and OPAL-PLUS: Research findings and implications for practice, Fox, K.R. 27th June, 2013, Barcelona

200 people attended

Networked with other European researchers in the same field
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description European College of Sports Science. Liverpool, OPAL presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact 60 academics and health professionals attended. Abstract published online and in proceedings

None
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description ISRM annual conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact 80 people attended.
Powerpoint presentation added to the ISRM website

None as yet
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Invited presentation Age UK (One Voice) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact PI was invited to present at the launch event for the charity Age UK (amalgamation of Age Concern and Help the Aged): "Getting active in the neighbourhood."

None to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description KT-EQUAL workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact Dr A Stathi hosted an event named "Physical activity promotion: blending policy, research and practice" (13/10/10) which team-members presented and facilitated at.

None to date.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Media engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 1) Two press releases obtained media coverage: a) January 2008, to coincide with 50% recruitment to project b) Early January 2009, to coincide with NPRI annual scientific meeting and early gender-based physical activity research findings.
2) Approached by local radio/TV for several team-members to be involved in a week's special coverage on ageing in the run up to Remembrance Day, November 2010.

1a) Coverage in local newspaper, Bristol Evening Post 1b) Coverage included: BBC news online (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7811398.stm), Telegraph.co.uk, University of Bristol and University of Exeter homepages, Marie Claire online, various Indian news websites.
2) Local radio coverage: radio interview by Professor J Thompson; television interview by Professor K Fox (with supplementary film coverage of a data collection visit).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010
URL http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7811398.stm
 
Description National Coalition of Active Ageing meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact 2 hour seminar presented to members of the National Coalition of Active Ageing, London, 27/5/10 (approx 12 people in attendance):

"Sharing good practice and knowledge: Avon Network for the Promotion of Active Ageing in the Community and Project OPAL." Speakers: Stathi, A, Davis, M., Fox, K.R., Coulson, J.C

None to date.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description OPAL participant newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Newsletter disseminated about: early research findings, future plans for the project and continued research/funding, reminder about follow-up visits, contributions at academic conferences, local opportunities for intergenerational socialising and local physical activity-providers. Available at: http://www.bris.ac.uk/enhs/opal/docs/newslettersept08web.pdf

None to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description OPAL website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See http://www.bris.ac.uk/enhs/opal/. Aside describing the study, the website incorporates links to outputs and healthy living resources for older people. It is designed for participants, local practitioners, media, policy-makers and the wider public.

None to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Primary Care Research Network newsletters 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact Updates to the local GP community, some of which were partner surgeries to us for OPAL participant recruitment, through short pieces in these newsletters.

None to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008
 
Description Public talk, Belfast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact Physical activity promotion in older adults: research, guidelines and policy.
Northern Ireland Annual Public Health conference.
attended by 300 health professionals and policy makers.

Requests for more information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description South West Seniors Assembly 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Title of presentation: 'Ageing well' for the forum's annual conference 'The age of influence: shaping our own future.' Audience of approximately 150 people, principally key senior figures from the SW ageing forums. (Taunton, March 2012).

Jo Coulson was invited to join the closing plenary panel, which included the CEO and national engagement manager for Age UK/England.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description UK Society for Behavioural Medicine Conference, Sterling 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Academics (mainly health psychologists) attend

Conference proceedings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description University of the Third Age 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Workshop for U3A participants in Exeter district.
Physical activity and health in later life.
20 participants

Interest and more information requests
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description World Congress on Active Ageing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Paper Presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Title: "Indicators of psychological well-being and their association with objectively-measured physical activity in older adults" verbal presentation by Coulson JC. Other authors: Davis M, Fox KR, Hillsdon M, Stathi A, Thompson J. (Glasgow, August 2012).

International audience of circa 150 people for conference that is held only once every four years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012