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Encouraging older people to walk further and more frequently

Press release issued: 22 October 2020

A new study which aims to understand why some people find walking difficult is looking for volunteers.

Many people, particularly older people, do not do the recommended amount of daily physical activity that will help improve their health. Walking has been shown to be one of the best forms of exercise, so researchers from the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Bristol are investigating how to encourage older people to walk more, and at a greater intensity.

Russ Jago, Professor of Paediatric Physical Activity and Public Health in the School for Policy Studies, who is leading the study, said: “Walking is free, requires no equipment, and is a good way for people of any age to be physically active. It benefits people's health in a number of ways, including improving quality of life and mental health, alleviating social isolation, and reducing the risks of heart disease and joint pain. Evidence shows that walking quickly is more beneficial than just moving.”

The researchers are looking for study participants to help understand why some people find walking difficult.

The research team want to talk to men and women who are close to retirement age, or who have recently retired, who do not currently do a lot of walking, to understand what would make it easier for them to walk more often. They also want to ask about how they might be able to help people who do not do much walking to walk faster and in more challenging settings, such as up hills.

Participants who agree to take part in the study, will complete a brief online survey.   An interview will then be carried out with a member of the project team that will last about 45 minutes. The interview will be conducted over the phone or online via Skype (or similar). The interviewer will ask participants some questions about them, how much walking they do and what might help them to walk more often. Participants will receive a £20 gift voucher for taking part.

To find out more about the study, read the study’s Information Sheet or take the online survey.

Further information

About the National Institute for Health Research
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the UK's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

About NIHR Bristol BRC
The National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre’s (NIHR Bristol BRC) innovative biomedical research takes science from the laboratory bench or computer and develops it into new drugs, treatments or health advice. Its world-leading scientists work on many aspects of health, from the role played by individual genes and proteins to analysing large collections of data on hundreds of thousands of people. Bristol BRC is unique among the NIHR’s 20 BRCs across England, thanks to its expertise in ground-breaking population health research.

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