With Laois Sports Partnership

This page briefly outlines the three research studies that we have conducted with Laois Sports Partnership to date. All studies are focused on community based, multimodal physical activity and health interventions.

Study 1: Multimodal Physical Activity Participation Rates in Middle-Aged and Older Adults.

353 adults aged 50-90 years in Laois completed our survey which looked at participation in multimodal (aerobic, resistance, balance and flexibility) training, barriers (social, personal, environmental) to participation, perceived benefits of participation, and physical activity opportunities participants would like to see available. The key findings include only 51.6% (n=182) of participants meet the recommendations for aerobic exercise for health and most participants did not meet the recommendations for resistance (14.4%, n=51), flexibility (6.2%, n=22) or balance training (0%, n=0). This may increase frailty and falls, reduce independent living, well-being and quality of life in later years. The most common barriers to participation in physical activity were pain in joints and muscles (44.9%, n=111), injuries (24.5%, n=78) and clinical conditions (12.9%, n=40). However, it is important to understand that participation in regular multi-modal physical activity can treat and manage many of these issues. This message needs to be communicated to individuals who are affected by these issues and programmes should incorporate support and input from the area of Clinical Exercise Physiology if possible. In terms of mental health participants said physical activity improved their mental health (91.9%, n=217), helps them feel less stressed (90%, n=212), they enjoy it (90.5%, n=217) and they want to take part in more physical activity (77.5%, n=248). Future physical activity programmes for middle aged and older adults must incorporate (i) multi-modal physical activity (aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance training), (ii) education regarding the amount, type, and specific benefits of multi-modal physical activity for healthy ageing and the treatment and management of injuries and clinical conditions, (iii) effective online options due to COVID-19.

Research paper: The research paper published in the Irish Medical Journal (October 2020) can be accessed HERE

Research Partners: This research was conducted in partnership with Laois Sports Partnership and Dr Siobhan O'Connor in Dublin City University.


Study 2: The effect of a 6-week community-based lifestyle intervention on the physical, metabolic and cardiovascular health of female adults over 50 years.

Ageing elicits negative adaptations in body composition, muscle strength, aerobic fitness, metabolic and cardiovascular health. The ageing process is exacerbated by physical inactivity and the menopause. The aim of the study was to determine the effects of a 6-week community-based intervention on the physical, metabolic and cardiovascular health of women over 50 in Laois. 19 female participants (57±6 years, 32.4±7.2 kg/m2) completed a 6-week lifestyle intervention consisting of 4 hours of physical activity (2 instructor led strength sessions and 2 home based aerobic sessions) and one 60-minute nutrition and health workshop per week. Body weight, BMI, body composition and waist circumference were measured pre and post intervention. Lower body strength endurance and cardiovascular endurance were assessed using the sit-to-stand and the 6-minute walk tests respectively. Point-of-care testing was used to determine fasting glucose and lipid profile. Statistical analysis was completed on SPSS version 24.0. There were significant reductions in body weight (-2.2±2.0kg,p=< 0.000), percent body fat (-1.0±1.5%,p=0.008) and waist circumference (-2.6±2.5cm,p=0.000) post intervention. Sit-to-stand performance increased (12±9repetitions,p=0.000). The distance covered in the 6-minute walk test increased (82.4±1.2m) but this was not statistically significant.Fasting glucose levels improved post intervention (p=0.006). There was no statistically significant change in total cholesterol but there was a clinical significance as four participants normalised their total cholesterol levels. There was a nonsignificant increase in HDL cholesterol (p=0.56) and decrease in LDL cholesterol (p=0.15), triglycerides (p=0.12) and total cholesterol/HDL ratio (p=0.07). This 6-week community intervention successfully improved body weight, body fat % and waist circumference of participants. Lower body strength improved significantly. Cardiovascular fitness did not improve significantly which may be due to a limitation in maximum walking speed of participants. Metabolic health improved with a trend towards improved cardiovascular health.

Research paper: In progress.

Research partners: Laois Sports Partnership and IT Sligo.

Funding acknowledgements: Laois Sports Partnership.


Study 3: Prime Time for Middle Aged and Older Adults. A 12 Week Online Multimodal Physical Activity and Health Intervention for Adults Aged 50-80 Years in Laois.

Sixty one participants (50-80 years) living in Laois completed this 12 week intervention. Participants had a range of injuries, clinical conditions and physical abilities. It was originally planned as an onsite intervention, but was converted to an online intervention due to COVID. Pre and post test measurements consisted of anthropometric, body composition, sit-to-stand, 6 minute walk test, timed up and go, counter movement jump, squat jump, hand grip strength, abdominal muscle endurance, press up, balance, international physical activity questionnaire (short form) and PROMIS 10 questionnaire. The intervention consisted of two * 60 minute group physical activity sessions per week delivered via zoom. All sessions incorporated aerobic, resistance, balance and flexibility exercises, A 15 minute health workshop was delivered once per week covering a range of topics related to training, health and the treatment and management of the clinical conditions that existed in the group. All sessions were monitored. Take home resources were provided each week including home based exercise videos, workshop notes, voice recordings of the health workshops, home based circuits etc. 

Research paper: The research paper published in the Physical Activity and Health Journal (September 2021) can be accessed HERE.

Programme partners: Laois Sports Partnership, Sláintecare, Pobal, Government of Ireland.

Funding acknowledgement: This project received funding from the Government of Ireland Sláintecare Integration Fund under grant agreement number 21.