Promoting and maintaining physical activity in the transition to retirement: a systematic review of interventions for adults around retirement age

It has been argued that transition points in life, such as the approach towards, and early years of retirement present key opportunities for interventions to improve the health of the population. Research has also highlighted inequalities in health status in the retired population and in response to interventions which should be addressed. We aimed to conduct a systematic review to synthesise international evidence on the types and effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity among people around the time of retirement. A systematic review of literature was carried out between February 2014 and April 2015. Searches were not limited by language or location, but were restricted by date to studies published from 1990 onwards. Methods for identification of relevant studies included electronic database searching, reference list checking, and citation searching. Systematic search of the literature identified 104 papers which described study populations as being older adults. However, we found only one paper which specifically referred to their participants as being around the time of retirement. The intervention approaches for older adults encompassed: training of health care professionals; counselling and advice giving; group sessions; individual training sessions; in-home exercise programmes; in-home computer-delivered programmes; in-home telephone support; in-home diet and exercise programmes; and community-wide initiatives. The majority of papers reported some intervention effect, with evidence of positive outcomes for all types of programmes. A wide range of different measures were used to evaluate effectiveness, many were self-reported and few studies included evaluation of sedentary time. While the retirement transition is considered a significant point of life change, little research has been conducted to assess whether physical activity interventions at this time may be effective in promoting or maintaining activity, or reducing health inequalities. We were unable to find any evidence that the transition to retirement period was, or was not a significant point for intervention. Studies in older adults more generally indicated that a range of interventions might be effective for people around retirement age.

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