Group of elderly people putting their hands together and smiling after taking part in a workout class

Volunteers help older people become more physically active

Published : 15/03/24 | Categories: Volunteering |

A study from Cardiff Metropolitan, Birmingham and Manchester Universities is looking into ways in which peer volunteering can help older people increase their levels of physical activity.


The study, known as ACTIF, began in 2022 and participants have now reached 530 (almost 200 in the Cardiff area), plus 200 volunteers. Half of the participants have been matched with a volunteer for six months. The rest form a comparison group and attend two Healthy Aging sessions. At the end of the study, data from the two groups will be compared to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of ACTIF.


Data is collected from all participants at baseline, six, 12 and 18 months. This includes physical function data, memory and cognition, height, weight and grip strength and levels of activity (measured by a wrist worn accelerometer). Questionnaires are also used to collect information about people’s well-being, social interaction, use of healthcare and social services etc. All ACTIF data will have been collected by August 2025. Summary results will be available from December 2025.


One participant said:

It’s been very good and I have felt lots better. I’ve been meeting with my volunteer and it has improved me greatly. I am very happy. Thank you for getting someone to help me.’

Another said:

‘We tried yoga mobility with my volunteer and I had a very good experience. I feel we have become good friends.’


Physical inactivity is one of the strongest predictors of physical disability in older adults. Increasing physical activity can help older people maintain their mobility, strength, balance and ability to live independently.

There is still an opportunity for those aged 65 and over at risk of mobility disability and living in Cardiff to get involved in the ACTIF project.


More information is available at ACTIF Project, via Cardiff Third Sector Council.

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