A group exercise toolkit for older people with chronic conditions

As the NHS waiting list soars above six million people, older people with chronic conditions face worsening symptoms, more complicated surgeries, and reduced quality of life. The NHS is promoting exercise as a “miracle cure”. But we’re living in a physical inactivity pandemic, with only limited success in getting older people to be more active. We will develop a toolkit for health professionals to build community-based group exercise programmes for older adults with chronic conditions.


Catalyst R3

Lead Organisation

Bournemouth University


South West England


Sustaining Physical Activity

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About the project

As the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) waiting list soars above six million people, with treatment wait times over two years, older people with chronic conditions face worsening symptoms, increased use of medications, more complicated surgeries with slower recovery, reduced quality of life, and loss of independence.

As part of its plans to tackle this crisis, the NHS promotes exercise as a “miracle cure” for arresting the progress of disease and helping disease management and recovery. However, current plans promoting individual, home-based exercise, as well as on-site hospital-based programs of delivery, have met with only limited success, and face problems of decreased space, capacity, clinician time, as well as lack of knowledge and expertise with regard to effective behavior change.

I am proposing to develop and promote a suite of materials and online resources—a toolkit or blueprint—to support health professionals in their development and scaling of non-hospital- (community-) based group exercise programs for older people with chronic conditions. Key benefits for older people include arresting disease, delaying disease onset, reducing pain and need for medication, avoiding surgery, and leading a normal life.

My long-term ambition is to develop a go-to resource for health professionals to use to manage a range of conditions associated with older people, for which building sustainable physical activity is an aim. If successful, our innovation has potential for substantial reach and impact, changing the way we manage (and improve the lives of older people living with) chronic conditions, creating cost savings for health systems world-wide.


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