Background

Older adults aged 65 and over are the fastest growing segment of the World‘s population (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2011). Although prolongation of life remains an important public health goal, of even greater significance is the preservation of the capacity to live independently and to function well during late life. The increase of the elderly population leads to increased prevalence of frailty, risk for poor health outcomes, and related health and social care costs. Lack of physical activity (PA) and established sedentary behaviours (SB) constitute an additional burden, as they are related to progression of chronic disease and disabling conditions. An existing initiative to battle SB and insufficient PA levels are exercise referral schemes (ERS) implemented in primary care, where insufficiently active individuals are referred to a third party service (sports centre or leisure facility) that prescribes and monitors an exercise programme tailored to the patients’ needs. ERS had shown improvements in PA in the short-term, but may have limited power to change SB and produce long-term effects. Thus, ERS might be enhanced by self-management strategies (SMS) to promote behavioural change. Such strategies based on social cognitive theory have been shown to increase self-confidence, power to act, and involvement in exercise.

Demographic projections