Empowering Healthy Aging: A New Toolkit for Action on Physical Activity by WHO 

Professor
The University of Sydney

Empowering Healthy Aging: A New Toolkit for Action on Physical Activity by WHO 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a comprehensive toolkit aimed at catalyzing action to promote physical activity among older adults. This initiative is part of a broader series designed to assist countries in crafting and executing policies to increase population participation in physical activity. Aligned with the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) 2018–2030 and the ACTIVE technical package, this toolkit focuses on interventions that can be delivered through primary health and community care services. Its strategic design also supports the objectives of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030). 

The development of this toolkit was a collaborative endeavor, drawing upon the collective wisdom and expertise of global leaders in health, ageing, and physical activity. It consolidates evidence-based strategies aimed at enhancing physical activity among older adults, with a range of case study examples of what this could look like in practice.  

At its core, this toolkit seeks to empower nations to proactively address the challenges posed by an ageing demographic. By fostering physical activity among older adults, countries can positively impact health outcomes, enhance quality of life and physical function, and mitigate the burden of chronic disease. The toolkit provides a roadmap for policymakers, healthcare professionals, and community leaders to design, implement, and evaluate interventions tailored to the unique needs of their ageing populations.  

The toolkit details three key activities needed to support and promote physical activity among older people: 1. educating and encouraging – communicating why physical activity is important; 2. engaging and supporting – ensuring physical activity programmes and services meet the needs of older people; 3. enabling every day – ensuring that environments where older people live, work and socialise support physical activity.  

The toolkit describes five enabling factors that underpin effective and sustainable provision of physical activity opportunities for older people. These include: 1. governance, leadership and finance; 2. advocacy; 3. partnerships and community links; 4. training; 5. monitoring and evaluation. 

To members of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), we see this toolkit as a catalyst for furthering your commitment to global physical activity promotion. We hope you will embrace the insights provided to inform your advocacy efforts, guide your research pursuits, and strengthen collaborative initiatives. By integrating these evidence-based strategies into your work, you are pivotal in contributing to the realisation of GAPPA’s objectives and the broader vision of fostering active and healthy ageing worldwide. 

This toolkit supports a future where older adults can not only live longer but live in better health. It provides the tools, the guidance, and the inspiration to pave the way for positive change, redefining what it means to age with grace, health, and vibrancy. As we share this resource with the global community, let us all commit to championing the cause of healthy ageing, confident in our collective ability to create a world where older age brings vitality, resilience, and the joy of physical activity. 

To explore the toolkit and access additional resources, visit the WHO website or ISPAH website.  

Anne Tiedemann

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