Highlights from the Institute of Public Health Webinar

Highlights from the Institute of Public Health Webinar

This blog was created by Dr. Joey Murphy (I-PARC Project Manager) in order to share highlights and key resources from the Institute of Public Health hosted webinar “Physical Activity and the Pandemic: Lessons for older adults and health professionals”. This 2-hour webinar involved several interesting speakers who shared their experience of promoting and engaging older populations for getting and staying physically active. Over 550 people registered to join the webinar.

The event was moderated by Prof. Roger O’Sullivan (IPH) who provided a nice link between sessions with some interactive questions for the participants. Prof O’Sullivan stated that such a webinar is really timely, given the fact that we face further restriction across the island of Ireland to suppress COVID-19.

First we had an introduction from Minister Frank Feighan TD (Minister for State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy, Department of Health) who provided an update on the support and guidance the government and key organisations are providing for vulnerable groups to stay healthy during COVID-19. This included reference to the “In This Together” campaign which provides useful information around:

  1. Looking after your mental health
  2. Looking after yourself and your family
  3. Staying active
  4. Healthy eating
  5. Helping in the community
  6. Local resources

This was followed up by short recording of Evelyn Gourley, who shared her experiences of staying physically active, how it can be beneficial, and even how it can become enjoyable and addictive. An example of a fun initiative to help older people stay active is the “Move with Mary” initiative.

Prof. Adrian Bauman (University of Sydney) highlighted the challenge we have, as physical activity professionals, to turn interest in physical activity into actual activity engagement. Prof. Bauman then provided good practices for getting and keeping older adults active through online methods. These included:

  • Embrace online methods as they are scalable and affordable for reaching many older adults
  • Create social supports and online activities that are usable for older adults
  • De-mythologise that older adults in the community can’t use on-line technologies

Prof. Dawn Skelton (Glasgow Caledonian University) presented on the translation of physical activity guidelines for older adults. Prof. Skelton stated that “Exercises will only work if people do them” and provided the following ideas for action to help engage older people in physical activity:

  • Plan programmes and sessions that older people want to come to (and keep coming to).
  • Emphasise the benefits that older people identify themselves, such as increased mobility, confidence, maintain independence, play with grandchildren.
  • Explain and communicate the importance of strength and balance activities for helping gain these benefits.
  • Be aware that many older people do not want to be categorised as such and market your programmes appropriately.

The final speaker, Deirdre Lang (Health Service Executive) provided lessons from the Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Moving campaign. Deirdre highlighted the fact that “Not all older people are frail, and not all people with frailty are old” and noted the following messages when running campaigns for increasing physical activity engagement:

  • Something is better than nothing.
  • You’re never too old or young to start.

The webinar concluded with a discussion panel with several interesting questions from participants. Some final practical tips from the panel for staying active included:

  • Cleaning your teeth on 1 leg (swapping over half-way through)
  • Walking up and down the stairs an extra 5 times a day (if possible)
  • Move More and Move Often – something is better than nothing.

A recording of the webinar is available below or by clicking here.

We would like to thank those at the Institute of Public Health for hosting such an engaging and informative session.

Thank you for reading this blog piece.

– I-PARC Team


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