Topic: An innovative outdoor exercise equipment in an aged care facility – preliminary results from the ENJOY project: Exercise interveNtion outdoor proJect in the cOmmunitY for older people
Day: Thursday 22 October 2020
Time: 3:30pm-4:00pm AEDT
The ENJOY project (Exercise interveNtion outdoor proJect in the cOmmunitY for older people) is a community research project aiming to actively promote community well-being through the provision of a unique exercise and social support program using an outdoor multimodal exercise equipment (the Seniors Exercise Park https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaYuCMtnlYk). This study was conducted at 3 sites: 2 in public spaces and one in an aged care facility (Leith Park, Old Colonist’s Association of Victoria) in Melbourne. The Seniors Exercise Park equipment was installed and launched in June 2019 in Leith Park.
Twenty six inactive older people (age 77.3±8.5 years (range 65-92), 88% women) with falls history were recruited from the general community and from the independent residential living units at Leith Park. Participants underwent a three month supervised outdoors exercise program twice per week at the Leith Park aged care facility in St Helena. The program ran in groups of 6-10 participants and was supervised by a qualified exercise leader. Each exercise session was followed by morning tea to facilitate socialisation among participants.
Physical activity level (Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS)), physical function (30-second sit to stand test, two-minute walk test, 4 meter walk test, step test) and health related quality of life (EQ-5D-5L self-rated health status (VAS 0-100), World Health Organisation (WHO-5) Wellbeing questionnaires, fear of falling and falls risk were measured at baseline and at the completion of the 3 months program. Repeated measure ANOVA was used to compare the outcome measures between the two time points. High adherence (89%) to the program was reported, with a significant increase in physical activity level following the intervention (CHAMPS caloric expenditure, frequency per week and total time in all exercise-related activities per week, p ˂0.05). Significant Improvements were also demonstrated in the physical function measures (2 minute walk test and step test, p ˂0.01), quality of life and well being (p ˂0.01), fear of falling and falls risk (p ˂0.01).
Participation in the program resulted in various health benefits suggesting the ENJOY Seniors Exercise Park program at the aged care site is effective in improving older people’s physical function and wellbeing. The outdoor exercise equipment can offer an important public health infrastructure investment in promoting physical activity for older people living in aged care facilities and the surrounding community. Given the current pandemic, opportunities for outdoor physical activity programs might offer a safer alternative for indoor activities.
Associate Professor Levinger is a Senior Researcher at the National Ageing Research Institute with over 15 years experience, skills and expertise in active ageing, physical activity and falls prevention, quantitative gait analysis and clinical biomechanics. Her current research focuses on research translation and community work with local government engagement. She has expertise in the area of age friendliness outdoor sites specifically designed for older people and currently works closely with government bodies in strategic development and planning around the built environment and public health impact. She leads the ENJOY Seniors Exercise Park project, a VicHealth Award finalist for 2019 for Promoting Health through Physical Activity and Sport category https://www.nari.net.au/enjoy.