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Adults can change their lifestyles and avoid age-related conditions

Dr Nicole Blackburn, QUB research fellow, writes:

Older adults (people aged over 65 years) are the fastest growing segment of the world‘s population. By 2060, almost one in three people will be aged over 65, and more than one in 10 will be over the age of 80. This shift to an older population will lead to an increased need for the health service to care for people with age-related conditions such as frailty and chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Prolonged periods of sitting and a lack of physical activity have been associated with the development of chronic disease and disability and are considered as two important lifestyle factors that can be modified to reduce an individual’s risk of developing disease.

Therefore, to promote active and healthy ageing, developing effective strategies to reduce sitting time and increase physical activity in older adults are a public health priority.

The SITLESS study is an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project being conducted by Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, in collaboration with six other institutions across Europe.

The SITLESS study aims to assess how combining an exercise programme with additional sessions to encourage active lifestyles can influence sitting time in older adults across a long time period (18 months).

The SITLESS study has recruited more than 1,300 participants across Northern Ireland, Denmark, Germany and Spain. Participants took part in the exercise programmes in Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex, Better Belfast sites including Avoniel Leisure Centre and Girdwood Community Hub, Hanwood Centre, Maureen Sheehan Centre and Shaftesbury Community and Recreation Centre.

This research would not be possible without the commitment of the participants who have kindly given up their time to take part in this project.

We are very thankful to our community partners for helping us deliver the programme, with the support of Active Belfast. The assessment of study participants is currently ongoing in the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility based at the Belfast City Hospital. The final assessments are due to finish in June 2019.

SITLESS encourages active ageing as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

If you are interested in making some positive lifestyle changes, then we would recommend contacting one of our community partners listed above to find out more about what they have to offer.

In addition, Belfast Positive Ageing Month is taking place throughout October, with full details of the programme available online at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/community/Seniors.

  • The Northern Ireland SITLESS team consists of: Professor Mark Tully (UU), Professor Frank Kee, Dr Nicole Blackburn, Dr Jason Wilson and Mrs Nichola Laird (all QUB)

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