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2017-18 highlights from the Active Older People (APPHLE) HIT

2 May 2018

Professor Selena Gray, Director of the Active Older People Health Integration Team, gives an update on their work in 2017-18.

The Active Older People Health Integration Team (APPHLE HIT) lost Co-Director Dr Afroditi Stathi in December, as she gained a new post at the University of Birmingham. So the HIT, led by Selena Gray, spent some time this year considering its priorities and membership. We now have a new Co-Director, Karen Lloyd, from Bristol Active Ageing and reinvigorated links with Public Health Bristol and several voluntary and community organisations working at the grass roots across Bristol – notably in the most disadvantaged parts of the city.

Afroditi has been a dynamic advocate of collaboration between researchers and delivery partners – setting up both the ACE (Active, Connected, Engaged) and REACT (Retirement in Action) studies. These projects are underpinned by principles shared with APPHLE:

  • That physical activity has the potential to improve health and wellbeing throughout an individual's life
  • That sedentary behaviour dramatically increases health risk in older people and disproportionately affects people with low socio-economic status, leading to health inequalities

In the last year, APPHLE has supported our partner the St Monica Trust to expand ACE activity in Filwood and Lawrence Hill, and to extend the project into Hartcliffe. We have established strong links with Public Health Bristol’s Staying Steady programme, with its community hubs that deliver strength and balance sessions, based on the notion that this is a social activity – a key driver for older people. In 2018 we will ensure that social prescribing hubs include referral pathways to these sessions and to:

  • Physical activity opportunities that include exposure to outdoors
  • Increasing uptake of outdoor environment activities such as those available in conservation, horticulture and on the water.

Although it’s hard to determine a direct pattern of cause and effect from the work of APPHLE alone, data from Sport England suggests that there has been a substantial increase in physical activity in older people in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area - and in Bristol in particular - in those over 65 years in contrast to other cities in the South West. This is very encouraging news.

Similarly, Public Health England and Sport England data demonstrate that Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are making relatively good progress in terms of all-adult physical activity levels compared to other cities. In 2015/16, 73 per cent of adults in Bristol were considered ‘active’, doing more than 150 minutes of exercise a week. We will analyse data from the 2017 Bristol Quality of Life Survey when it’s available, to continue to monitor self-reported levels of exercise.

Here’s to an active and healthy 2018/19!

2017-18 highlights from the Active Older People (APPHLE) HIT
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