A new technology-based scheme to help older people to be more active and avoid the risk of loneliness and social isolation is being piloted in Babergh and Mid Suffolk.
The Active Technology project gives over 50-year-olds the chance to increase their physical activity levels and to monitor their progress with a wristband fitness tracker. The aim is to encourage those living in rural areas to make positive lifestyle choices to improve their physical, social and mental wellbeing.
Suffolk Sport is rolling out the 12-month self-care project in partnership with Abbeycroft Leisure Centre (ALC), which has venues in the region, and with the support of the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (Eastern AHSN), which is funding the fitness trackers.
After a GP or self-referral, participants meet with an Active Wellbeing adviser who can assess their strength, mobility and aerobic fitness and recommend suitable physical activities and classes for that individual. They then register with an ALC venue and can monitor their own progress via a wristband, which tracks markers such as their activity log, heartrate and body composition.
By using a free smartphone app, the adviser can remotely monitor whether they are reaching their goals and, if necessary, send texts to encourage them to do more or praise them for their achievements.
At six and 12-week intervals, participants are invited to join group activity sessions at various community locations, after which they can buy the fitness tracker at a reduced price and access a range of other benefits.
According to Public Health England regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of dementia by up to 30, hip fractures by up to 68%, and depression by up to 30% and prevent and manage over 20 other chronic conditions. General levels of physical activity among older adults are low, but these levels drop further as people progress through old age and are often even lower amongst those living alone.
For more information contact Nick Pringle.