”Walk and Talk” for older people (60+) in a local area in Odense

A pilot project “Walk and Talk” started as part of an education programme within senior sport for two employees of the city of Odense – both work on health promotion and prevention for older people.

The aim is to increase older people’s motivation to walk, strengthen their social relations and hold on to good walking habits. The activity is an offer to both active and less active older people, since the walking trips can be adjusted in both length and speed.

Background & Objectives

Overall, the project focuses on walking to promote health and prevent illness. The strategy is to extend the focus on motion and exercise in everyday life. Walking trips were chosen to promote health, because it is a simple way to move and an ideal way for older people to exercise, since it does not require special equipment and can take place any time and at any location.

The focus is not only on motivating older people to start walking more in their daily life, but also on keeping the new habits by establishing a new walking club or association in the end. It is crucial that older people both want to walk and have the possibilities to continue to walk in order for the project to succeed. That is why the focus is on both walking and social activities, because social activities can especially maintain older people’s motivation to walk more in their daily life.

Implementation

The project can be divided into three steps:

  • 1st – “Walk and talk on preventive home visits”. A preventive home visit is offered twice a year to all citizens aged 75 in Denmark. At a typical visit, the employee from the municipality and the older citizen are sitting down to talk to each other. In this project, the older citizen is offered a conversation during a walking trip instead. Hereby, older citizens will experience and perceive walking as a positive way to move and exercise. Before the visit, a small brochure is sent to the citizen where the offer is described in detail.
  • 2nd – “Establish a walking network in a local area”. Here, the aim is to establish a walking group of friends in a local area. Several walking trips are arranged with different lengths and speed in order to attract both active and less active older people. The idea is that more active older people can support and motivate the less active.The walking network started in a small local area in cooperation with an older people's association, sport clubs, the local medical centre, volunteers and employees of the municipality.For the start, a workshop with citizens from the local area was held with the aim to clarify wishes and needs. 18 older citizens participated in the workshop. After this, walking trips in three different lengths were carried our once a week with the same departure and arrival place – the lengths were 1, 3 and 5 km. Coffee was served after each walking trip.25 older people between 60 and 89 years participated in the first walking trip.
  • 3rd – “local association”. The presumption of this step is that older people are motivated through the walking trips in step two and will have the energy and desire to participate in a local walking association. Therefore the focus is on the social relations that are very important for older people’s health and quality of life.

Letters, a flyer and posters were produced in order to promote this project. However, experience showed that mouth to mouth promotion was most efficient.

Conclusions

The project started in one small local area in Odense. However, it is the intention to implement it in other areas as well. It will happen in cooperation with volunteers, organisations and employees of the City of Odense working with health promotion and prevention.

Contact Person
Mrs. Elsebeth LIND MIKKELSEN
Firm: Ældre- og Handicapforvaltningen City of Odense
Address: Ørbækvej 100, 5220 - Odense, Denmark
Phone: +45–65 51–35 66

The AENEAS project is supported by:
Inteligent Energy
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