OPAL project background
But we still don’t know very much about how active older people are, or their patterns of activity. There has not been much research about how, or why, some older people manage to keep more active than others. It is possible that where people live affects this balance.
In 2005, our centre completed an earlier research study called The Better Ageing project. It provided comprehensive information on the effects of 'structured' exercise (gym sessions) on older adults. It also allowed us to develop our use of activity monitors with an older population, refine our questionnaires, and design and conduct interviews with older people.
Project OPAL emerged from the need to describe older people’s lifestyles, living conditions and behaviours in much more detail. From a better description and understanding of factors promoting (or preventing) physical activity and good nutritional habits, we hope to find ways to support older adults to keep their independence, and promote ‘healthier ageing’ into the future.
Project OPAL was one of the first research projects funded by The National Prevention Research Initiative. The NPRI is made up of many key organisations that work together to support research into chronic disease prevention and influence health behaviour. They have funded different projects over several phases. Their core aim is to develop and implement successful, cost-effective interventions that reduce people’s risk of developing conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The South West General Practice Trust Fund and Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative have also supported us to start our follow-up phase, OPAL-Plus.