Lack of guided exercise in older adults with mobility limitations

Kalmari P, Urtamo A, Vuorjoki-Andersson E, Salminen U, Starck H, Säpyskä-Nordberg M, Karvinen E.
The Age Institute, Helsinki, Finland
21 st Nordic Congress of Gerontology. Copenhagen, Denmark June 10 th-13 th, 2012

Background and aim

Independently living older people (75+) with decreased mobility are threatened by a collapse in functional capacity and an increased need for support. There is also a growing risk for falls. Mobility can be improved with
goal-oriented strength and balance exercises.
The aim of the National Strength in Old Age Programme 2005-2014 is to implement good practices for older people’s health exercise. Good practices will be applied in 38 municipalities in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and the public sector.
Good practices were produced in the programme´s  rst  ve-year period and they showed how to
• reach target groups
• organize health exercise counseling
• organize guided strength and balance exercise and outdoor activities
The programme is coordinated and mentored by the Age Institute and  nanced by Finland’s Slot Machine Association, Ministry of Social A airs and Health and Ministry of Education and Culture.


The aim is reached by a wide training program and intensive mentoring. The mentoring
supports the process of implementation of good practices including:
• informing the decision-makers
• survey of health exercise
• plan for development and implementation
• training of actors
• launching exercise counseling and action
• communication and materials
• network seminars
Follow-up and evaluation of data: background investigations and development plans, local mentoring diaries, annual questionnaires, client and training feedback, publicity monitoring, self- evaluations.


The first 13 municipalities have established cross-sectorial cooperation groups including coordinators from social and health care, sport authority and organizations.
According to annual follow-up in 2011:
• The programme trained 38 health exercise supervisors who in their turn trained 237 municipal instructors.
• There were 1 000 participants in the seminars; older people were especially active.
• Local newspapers wrote 33 articles about the programme.
• 90 new strength and balance exercise groups were established in municipalities and exercise counseling was started.
• There were 1 700 more participants in strength and balance exercise groups than before.
• Older people were reached, for example, by home visits and with the help of organizations and congregations.
There are still challenges in some municipalities: the testing of physical functional capacity, exercise of twice a week, collection of client feedback, and organization of individual exercise counseling and outdoor exercise.


Strength in Old Age Programme inspired municipalities to develop guided exercise for older adults with mobility limitations. Mentoring helped the local cooperation groups in carrying out suitable exercise counseling and producing strength and balance exercises for the target group.