“Senior orienteering athletes may act as an ideal model of healthy aging”. This is, in brief, the main conclusion of a study hold by a researching group from Örebro University, Sweden and published as an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. On it, we found the stages of a study involving 374 participants, some really interesting analysis to quantitative and qualitative data, a discussion and the conclusions. We present just the abstract but the complete article strongly worth a reading [HERE].
“Senior orienteering athletes as a model of healthy aging: a mixed-method approach”
Lina Östlund-Lagerström, Karin Blomberg, Samal Algilani, Magnus Schoultz, Annica Kihlgren, Robert J. Brummer and Ida Schoultz
The proportion of individuals reaching an old age is increasing and will, in the near future consume a majority of health care resources. It is therefore essential to facilitate the maintenance of optimal functionality among older adults. By characterizing older individuals experiencing wellbeing, factors important to promote and maintain health through life can be identified. Orienteering is an endurance-running sport involving cross-country navigation, demanding both cognitive and physical skills of its practitioners. In this study we aim to explore a Swedish population of senior orienteering athletes as a potential model of healthy aging.
We undertook a mixed-method approach using quantitative (i.e. questionnaires) and qualitative (i.e. focus group discussions) methodologies to explore a population of senior orienteering athletes (n = 136, median age = 69 (67–71) years). Quantitative data was collected to evaluate health status, assessing physical activity (Frändin-Grimby activity scale (FGAS)), functional wellbeing (EQ-5D-5 L), gut health (Gastrointestinal symptoms rating scale (GSRS)), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS)) and overall health (Health index (HI)). The data was further compared to reference values obtained from a free-living Swedish population of older adults. Focus group discussions (FGD) were performed as a complement to the quantitative data to facilitate the individuals’ own views on health and physical activity.
The orienteering athletes enrolled in the study reported a significantly better health compared to the free-living older adults (p <0.0015) on all questionnaires except HADS. The high health status displayed in this population was further confirmed by the FGD findings, in which all participants declared their engagement in orienteering as a prerequisite for health.
In conclusion our results show that senior orienteering may represent an ideal model in studies of healthy aging. Furthermore, our results show that even though the senior orienteering athletes are well aware of the long-term benefits of physical activity and have practiced the sport from a young age, they particularly point out that their engagement in orienteering is driven by short-term values such as enjoyment and passion. This may be important to consider when introducing public health interventions among the general older population.
[“Senior orienteering athletes as a model of healthy aging: a mixed-method approach”, by
Lina Östlund-Lagerström, Karin Blomberg, Samal Algilani, Magnus Schoultz, Annica Kihlgren, Robert J. Brummer and Ida Schoultz. Nutrition and Physical Activity Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University. Nutrition Gut Brain Interactions Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University. Lina Östlund-Lagerström, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.]