Promoting Elderly Wellbeing: Integrating Social Interaction and Physical Activity for Lifelong Health


  • Reduced social interaction is linked to disease and mortality in older adults.
  • Integrating social interaction and physical activity improves overall health and quality of life for older adults.
  • Structured programs like Structured Social Interaction and Physical Activity (SSIPA) are feasible and effective in promoting well-being in older adults.
  • SSIPA significantly reduces loneliness, the risk of depression, and improves physical activity levels.
  • Implementing age-friendly spaces and offering entertainment options can increase older adults participation in programs like SSIPA.
  • It is recommended to increase awareness and support for social interaction and physical activity among older adults.

Background and introduction:

The process of population aging poses intricate challenges across different areas of society, biology, and culture in the contemporary world. Although much attention has been given to the biological aspects of aging, such as physical and mental declines in later life, the social and cultural dimensions are equally important but often overlooked. It is essential to address the multifaceted aspects of aging, including physical, psychosocial, and cultural factors, to build age-friendly societies and promote well-being within communities.

Among older adults, issues such as multiple health conditions, limitations in activities, and social isolation are common, leading to increased risks of depression and a decline in quality of life. In regions like Nigeria, where nursing homes and social security systems are limited, older adults face heightened challenges related to social interaction and activity participation. Implementing effective Structured Social Interaction and Physical Activity (SSIPA) interventions within community settings shows promise in enhancing physical activity levels, reducing loneliness and depression risks, and overall improving well-being among older adults. Therefore, this study aims to develop and validate an age-friendly SSIPA program tailored to the specific needs of older adults in Nigeria. By encouraging meaningful social interaction and promoting physical activity, the SSIPA intervention seeks to enhance the overall health outcomes and quality of life for older adults in the community.

Research method:

Multiple research methodologies were employed to comprehensively address the research objectives. A systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines to collect existing evidence. Qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews (IDI) and focused group discussions were employed to gain insights into the experiences of older adults. A survey was conducted to gather quantitative data on physical activity, social interaction, loneliness, depression risk, and quality of life. An intervention study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the SSIPA program.

Key findings:

The study revealed that integrating SSIPA significantly improved the health and well-being of older adults. Participants who engaged in SSIPA showed increased levels of physical activity, a better quality of life, and reduced feelings of loneliness and depression risk. The findings highlight the importance of combining social interaction with physical activity to promote overall health and wellness in the elderly population. The research clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of SSIPA in enhancing the well-being of older adults through a holistic approach that addresses both social and physical aspects of health. The findings highlight the value of tailored interventions that prioritize social engagement and physical activity for promoting lifelong health and quality of life in aging populations.


Programs like SSIPA, which integrate social interaction and physical activity, have shown significant potential for enhancing the overall health and quality of life of older adults. By addressing the social and physical dimensions of aging, these structured interventions have successfully increased physical activity levels, reduced the risks of loneliness and depression, and ultimately promoted well-being among the older adults’ population.

The policy implications of integrating social interaction and physical activity for the elderly are significant. It is necessary to raise awareness about the benefits of such activities and encourage engagement among older adults. Promoting overall well-being through this integration is crucial for creating age-friendly communities and enhancing the quality of life for older adults.


To create age-friendly environments for older adults that can enhance the quality of life and overall health of older adults, these recommendations are made:

  1. Develop structured programs that integrate social interaction and physical activity, catering to their specific needs.
  2. Raise awareness about the benefits of social interaction and physical activity and provide support for implementing these programs within communities.
  3. Establish age-friendly spaces, such as community halls equipped with gaming and recreational materials.
  4. Encourage community involvement in promoting elderly wellbeing by organizing events, workshops, and campaigns.
  5. Collaborate with stakeholders to ensure sustainable initiatives that prioritize the holistic needs of older adults.

Author (s) and affiliation(s):

  • Dr Joel O Faronbi (JOF), Academy of Nursing, Department of Health and Care Profession, University of Exeter, United Kingdom.
  • Dr Chidozie Mbada (CM), Department of Health Professions, Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom.
  • NB: JOF & CM were formerly affiliated with the Department of Nursing Science & Department of Medical Rehabilitation; College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife, Nigeria.

The main sources of the policy brief are:

We conducted a series of studies that involved (1) a systematic review following the Cochrane Collaboration guideline, (2) a qualitative study using individual in-depth interviews and focused group discussions, (3) a survey, and (4) an intervention study.

The research project aimed to (i) identify, analyze, and determine the prevalence of physical activity participation, social interaction, loneliness, risk of depression, and quality of life of older adults, (ii) develop an effective intervention program for older adults in Nigeria (SSIPA), (iii) assess the acceptability of SSIPA among older adults, and (iv) determine the effectiveness of SSIPA in terms of physical activity participation, social interaction, loneliness, risk of depression, and quality of life of older adults.

Package development:

The SSIPA package was developed using findings from the preliminary studies, including systematic reviews, in-depth interviews, focused group discussions, and surveys. The development process involved an iterative and mixed-methods consensus approach. A collaborative working group of expert clinicians, academics, and end-users (older adults) undertook the initiative. The experts were from various multidisciplinary health disciplines, including geriatric nursing, public health, physiotherapy, psychiatry, and sociology.

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