Helping Seniors Stay Fit and on their Feet
Study aims to find what motivates movement among older adults
For older adults, an accidental fall can be a pivotal event causing permanent changes in their mobility, independence and well-being. Because the costs and consequences of falls among older adults are potentially life-altering, new research on effective fall prevention strategies is gaining attention and support nationwide.
The School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota was recently awarded a $2.7 million grant to identify the most effective strategies for increasing physical activity in older adults – specifically strength-building and balance exercises scientifically proven to prevent falls. The grant from the National Institutes of Health will fund a large research study conducted in the Twin Cities area with 310 participants.
“We are engaging seniors who are 70+ in eight-week programs designed to help them include the physical activities-- known to reduce the chances of falling—into their everyday lives,” said Assistant Professor Siobhan McMahon, PhD, MPH, APRN, a gerontological nurse practitioner and researcher leading the study. “There are many programs and interventions that might help. But we aim to learn what approach is the most effective in inspiring the practice of these activities for the long term.”
Through pilot studies, McMahon and her team have refined several motivational and wellness strategies that will be tested. Results from the previous study indicated that older adults are interested in and capable of using physical activity monitors, like Fitbits, to self-track their physical activity.
This study is expected to provide evidence needed to strengthen and support nursing and public health efforts to promote physical activity and reduce falls in older adults.
The research team is now recruiting participants 70+ from across the metro area. Each participant will be part of an eight-week program comprised of a mix of assessment, education, activity and resources in Minneapolis or St. Paul. Transportation assistance is available.