Innovative ideas in physical activity and walking research targeting older adults


  • N. Notthoff
  • F. Metzger
  • V. Garms-Homolová
  • C. Jansen
  • D. French


Aims: The goals of this symposium are (1) to introduce valuable benefits of walking and physical activity for socioemotional functioning, (2) to show that the beneficial effects of physical activity cannot only be derived from vigorous activities, but – to some extent – from easily accessible activities like walking, (3) to demonstrate that walking and other physical activities are appropriate and beneficial for older adults with impairments, such as homecare recipients and nursing facility residents, and (4) to showcase innovative methods for measuring effects of walking on cognitive and neural processes in dual task paradigms. Rationale: The topic of this symposium fits well within the framework of this year’s conference theme “Innovative Ideas in Health Psychology.†It will feature innovative research ideas, cutting-edge methodology, and extension of physical activity and walking research to special populations. Summary: First, Metzger and colleagues will review the role of walking in dual task paradigms. They will present an innovative method for measuring the effects of walking on neural processes involved in dual tasking. Second, Notthoff and colleagues will show that walking and physical activity have important benefits that go beyond physical health. They will demonstrate that different facets of walking and activity support continued engagement in everyday and social activities in homecare clients. Garms-Homolová and colleagues will extend this line of research to nursing facility residents. They will present important implications of residents’ preferences for walking and exercise and of trainings targeting walking ability for social and emotional functioning and engagement. Finally, Jansen and colleagues will report on an intervention study aimed at improving nursing facility residents’ life space utilization through physical activity promotion. David French will discuss the four presentations within the framework of walking and physical activity research with older adults. The session will close with an interactive exchange with the audience.