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New Research project funding awarded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust

4th October, 2021

New Research project funding awarded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust to Profs Kelly Mackintosh, Melitta McNarry (Applied Sports, Technology, Exercise & Medicine Research Centre) andAndrea Tales (Awen Institute) at Swansea University, in collaboration with Dr Emily Oliver (Durham University) and Prof Ralph Maddison (Deakin University Australia)

Sir Halley Stewart Trust  http://www.sirhalleystewart.org.uk

Welsh Institute of Physical Activity, Health and Sport  https://www.swansea.ac.uk/sports-science/astem/wipahs/

Awen Institute  https://aweninstitute.com

Cycling Down Memory Lane: Using Virtual Reality to Promote Physical and Mental Health of Older Adults in Care Environments

As we get older, some of our cognitive, or thinking, skills can decline. For some people, such changes, make engaging in normal everyday activities more difficult and this in turn can result in loneliness, and poorer health and wellbeing. Although maintaining physical and brain activity can help to prevent, or reduce, some of these negative effects, some older adults living in care homes can spend 97% of their time alone and either sitting or lying down, and thus may not be benefitting from such exercise.

BikeAround is a stationary exercise bike surrounded by a half dome upon which views of streets from Google Maps are displayed. This allows users to physically cycle ‘down memory lane’ or a place of their choice (anywhere in the world) in a safe, unsupervised and exciting way, that provides both physical and mental exercise, at a speed preferred by the person using it. This experience can be shared with others who can sit alongside and join in the journey, thus adding an important social element.

For this study, we are working closely with ENRICH Cymru [https://enrich.nihr.ac.uk], to place a ‘BikeAround’ in four different care homes over a six-week period. During this time individuals will be invited to use the bike whenever they wish and at the start and end of the six-week period we will assess the participant’s physical, cognitive and mental health and ask for any thoughts and opinions on the bike, on cycling down ‘memory lane’ or ‘seeing’ new places and environments, and on being more active. After this six-week period we will also talk to those who frequently used BikeAround and those who didn’t to see what factors influenced how much they used it, what they would like changed and how it made them feel.

This information is important as an intervention is only effective if people will take part in it consistently and long-term. Importantly, we are looking for ways to do this that do not add further burden to care home staff, due to the unsupervised, safe nature of the intervention, but which support and encourage older adults to take an active part in their health and wellbeing.

 

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