Study to help adults delay frailty and live independently longer

A study, involving researchers from the University of Birmingham aims to help older people stay fitter and live independently for longer.


Project REACT (REtirement in ACTion) will target people aged over 65 years old who are starting to find everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs and getting up from a chair difficult.


By engaging these people in a specially designed 12-month physical activity and social programme, REACT will test whether a decline in mobility and physical function can be slowed, stopped or even reversed.


REACT started recruiting almost 800 people over the age of 65 to take part in the new programme delivered in local community centres.


REACT is based on a US programme which successfully proved that physical activity prevents loss of mobility in older adults.


Recent research shows that the most active older people need fewer prescriptions and are less likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency.


A fit and active older person has a 36% lower risk of developing disabilities and a 38% lower risk of hip fracture.


There is also strong evidence that greater physical activity can help protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers as well as reducing the risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


However, people over 65 years are the least active in society.


Chief Investigator from the University of Bath's Department for Health, Dr Afroditi Stathi, said, “This is a unique opportunity for us to test a programme which could lead to substantial gains for both individuals and wider society. We are building on a programme that has already been successful in the US so we are optimistic that we can deliver real benefits to the people who take part.


22 January 2015.