The secrets of highly active older adults: An interview with the author Thea Franke by Active Streets // Active People
September is buzzing with activity at CHHM. ASAP researchers are currently collecting data for Phase 2 of ASAP Sr. (read more about that research program HERE), and our team members’ publications are hot off the presses. For the first in a series of blogs highlighting our most recent articles, we interviewed Thea Franke, Project Manger for the Walk the Talk research program, about her article: The secrets of highly active older adults.
Hi Thea, can you give us a little bit of background about your work?
Well, there has been a lot of research on how the built environment encourages physical activity (via perceived safety, access to transportation, sidewalks and connectivity etc.) but not too much on community-dwelling older adults who defy physical activity norms and maintain a high (above average) level of physical activity. As you may be aware, although physical activity helps individuals manage many chronic diseases associated with aging, it tends to decline with age.
Only 15% of Canadians aged 20–79 are meeting the minimum physical activity recommendation of 150 minutes per week (based on the results from a 2007-2009 Statscan study). Needless to say, physical inactivity is a serious public health concern, especially with Canada’s aging demographic.
To address this, I analyzed the transcripts of 27 in-depth qualitative interviews with community dwelling older adults in Metro Vancouver. I looked at the similarities and differences between the 10 highly active participants and the 17 remaining participants.
Why focus on highly active older adults?
Health researchers often pay the most attention to ‘what’s wrong’; in my subject area this means issues (i.e. obesity, dementia, frailty etc) associated with physical inactivity.
Active Streets, Active People: interdisciplinary research team (UBC/SFU/VCHRI) – neighbourhood design / lifespan health & mobility / knowledge translation / fun