Living Well, Longer

Increasing physical activity in aging adults bannerIncreasing physical activity in ageing adults through open goals: A pilot study

Increasing physical activity in aging adults 300 by 200About the Project

Given the increasing ageing population in Australia, physical activity remains an essential mechanism for good physical and mental health to live well, longer.  Alarmingly, 60% of Australian adults are physically inactive, therefore a major public health concern is how to promote physical activity – especially in adults aged 55 and over. One vital problem is that physical activity interventions are often inhibited by poor uptake and adherence.

Developing physical activity interventions, which lead to longer-term adherence in ageing participants, is a high priority. This project will examine the efficacy of a new approach to goal setting to increase adherence by optimising the experience of being physically active.

As well as setting goals based on the traditional SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound), this study will examine open goals (e.g., “see how well I can do”). Research with athletes suggests that open goals lead to a more confident and motivating experience of task performance than SMART goals which, instead, lead to a more effortful and fatiguing psychological state.

This pilot study will compare physical activity programs based on each type of goal, and monitor changes in physical health (cardiovascular fitness), mental health, enjoyment of exercise, and longer-term physical activity beyond the program.

Increasing physical activity in aging adults 300 by 200 BAbout the Researchers 

This project brings together researchers from social science, medicine and health, and humanities to develop and pilot an intervention seeking to enhance the lives of ageing residents in the Illawarra, and explore feasibility of translating this strategy regionally/nationally.

Associate Research Fellow, Dr Christian Swann, Early Start Research Institute, School of Education (Faculty of Social Sciences)

Senior Research Fellow, Dr Stewart Vella, School of Psychology (Faculty of Social Sciences)

Lecturer, Mark Allen, School of Psychology (Faculty of Social Sciences)

Honours Student, Matthew Schweickle, School of Psychology (Faculty of Social Sciences)

Senior Lecturer, Dr Greg Peoples, School of Medicine (Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health)

Associate Professor Judy Mullan, School of Medicine (Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health)

Professor Dan Hutto, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry (Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts)

Last reviewed: 6 September, 2016

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