How to do research on older adults physical activity?

Intervalltrening ute med deltakerne i forskningsprosjektet Generasjon 100. Foto: Andrea Hegdahl Tiltnes/NTNUPhysical activity is established as a preventive medicine for several lifestyle diseases, but how and how much is this medicine used among elderly in Trondheim? Put another way: How active are older adults in Trondheim, how are their activity distributed in terms of intensity, weekdays vs weekends, gender, age and physical fitness, and witch  factors affect the activity levels of older people? This is partly what I focus on in my PhD project and here I will give you a presentation of how this can be examined in a scientific manner.

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Me and my co-authors use data from the research project “Generation 100”. In Generation 100 older adults in Trondheim were invited to a 5-year exercise study (intervention). This is the first randomized, clinical trial (the gold standard in medical research) where the main objective is to study the effects of physical exercise on older adults` health. At the start in 2012 – 2013, 1567 participants were recruited, born years1936 to 1942. Both studies that I will present are based on the participants’ examinations at the start of the project.

Spinning med deltakere i forskningsprosjektet Generasjon 100. Foto: Andrea Hegdahl Tiltnes/NTNU

Spinning with participants in “Genaration 100”

We work with an article about patterns of activity among the older adults. Physical activity is, as mentioned earlier, an important factor for good health. Health authorities worldwide (WHO, The Norwegian Directorate of Health etc.), have therefore defined recommendations for physical activity. This makes it important with regular, standardized monitoring of physical activity in different populations. Activity measurements using an accelerometer, is one such standardized method. To put it simple this is an advanced pedometer that also makes three-dimensional assessments often used in research. In Norway there are no comparably large studies using accelerometer among older adults, which has also measured the oxygen uptake of the participants as in Generation 100. The aim of the study is to provide a complete description of older adults` physical activity patterns. Specifically we use accelerometer to look at total physical activity, distribution of time in intensity zones, hourly distribution of physical activity throughout the day and physical activity on weekdays compared to weekends. In addition we analyze physical activity in relation to physical fitness (oxygen uptake), as well as age and gender. The article is under construction and expected to be submitted to a scientific journal early spring 2015.

Read also: Out-walking the Grim Reaper

Hallgeir Viken. Foto: Berre AS

Hallgeir Viken
Foto: Berre AS

The second article focuses on factors that affect how active older adults are. There are few studies that have looked at associations between physical activity and so-called “correlates”, background factors, among older adults to such an extent that Generation 100 makes possible. The aim of this study is to examine how demographic, biological and environmental factors influence the physical activity levels of older people in Trondheim. Demographic factors are age, gender, education, physical work and physical activity at age 40. Social environment includes social support to engage in physical activity, and living situation (alone or with a partner). Physical environment includes neighborhood, outdoor activity and climate. Biological factors are oxygen uptake, body mass index (BMI) and heart disease (present or not). The study uses data from accelerometer assessments, questionnaires and measurements of oxygen uptake and BMI. For those who are more than average interested in statistics we use so-called hierarchical regression, with physical activity as the dependent variable and demographic, biological and environmental factors as independent variables. The article is finished and will be submitted to a scientific journal this week.

Read also: Taking 4×4 intervaltraining to Japan

The research articles will be made available on the Generation 100 website as soon as they are published.

Hallgeir Viken, PhD Candidate at CERG

This entry was posted in Aging, Exercise, In English, Research, Science and tagged , , , by CERG. Bookmark the permalink.

About CERG

The Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) seeks to identify the key mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of physical on cardiac health in the context of disease prevention and treatment. Named the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine under Professor Ulrik Wisløff's leadership in 2011, CERG uses both top-down and bottom-up approaches to combat lifestyle-related disease.

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