Exercise action for the benefit of older adults in the Strength in Old Age Programme

Karvinen, E, Kalmari P, Säpyskä-Nordberg M, Starck H, Vuorjoki-Andersson E
Age Institute, Helsinki, Finland

20th Nordic Congress in Gerontology
Reykjavik, Iceland 30.5.-2.6.2010

The national Strength in Old Age Programme has functioned for five years promoting the autonomy of independently living older adults (75+) with decreased functional capacity. Models of action have been developed in order to invite older adults to join strength and balance exercise services. The exercise practices are based on research data of the benefits of progressive and regular group exercise. The programme is backed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Education, financed by the Finnish Slot Machine Association and coordinated by Age Institute.

Methods

The programme has been carried out with the method of action research. In order to change attitudes and promote expertise, extensive action concerning communication, training and cooperation between various sectors has been implemented. New models of strength and balance activities have been developed in 35 local three-year projects by social and health care organisations. Several methods of collecting follow-up data includes.

Results

In general training has participated 8.500 actors. Training in strength and balance action as well as outdoor exercise has been carried out for 410 supervisors, who have organized instructor training for 4.050 people. More than 500 newspaper articles and 24 short television bulletins have been published about the programme.

The cooperation of various sectors has materialised in local work groups. Good practices have been produced on the theme in 50 municipalities. More than 10.000 older adults have participated and 66 % have shown improved measured strength and balance capabilities. The knowledge of older adults has increased and they have experienced the training useful. Most of the activities have become permanent fixtures.

Conclusion

The action research approach, network of similar projects, project guidance and method of learning together have effectively produced new knowledge, good practices and models of cooperation. The programme has received funding for five more years.

Poster