As we get older, it is even more important to move more for our body and mind. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to move and connect with others and the Greater Manchester Active Ageing Programme provided just that for over 55s. The programme was a £1-million initiative, funded by Sport England for a two-year period which came to an end in March 2020.

The programme explored new ways to encourage physical activity amongst older adults (over-55s). It needed to explore healthy ageing to tackle inequalities and the psychosocial barriers to physical activity amongst older adults. A series of pilots were developed across 8 of the 10 localities within GM; Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford. Each pilot used common principles to address the local strategic needs and provide much-needed opportunities including sessions such as;

  • A brew, loo and something to do
  • Orienteering (not a walk in the park)
  • Toddler yoga
  • FitSteps Fab
  • Canal-a-size

The programme aligned to a series of core principles which were adopted by each of the 8 localities:

  • Embedding physical activity in whole system community approaches that support improved outcomes for older adults.
  • Holding person-centred, strength based conversations with older people to understand their lives in their community and understand the opportunity for increased activity to improve their lives.
  • Involvement of inactive older people from the target audience in the design of solutions.
  • Applying evidence based approaches to engaging older adults in physical activity and using behaviour change theory to support this work.
  • Linking physical activity for older adults to local models of social prescribing across GM where relevant

Evaluation findings

The final report, developed and written by the programme evaluation partner, The University of Manchester is now available to read. Following the development of the report, a 'learning report' has also been produced to support this, pulling out the key headline findings from the programme. These reports can all be downloaded from this page in the "GM Active Ageing Programme findings" section.

The programme aimed to work with over 4,500 older adults who will experience some of the benefits of being physically active:

  • Lower risk of developing a long term health condition
  • Reduced risk of mental illness/cognitive decline
  • Help maintain ability to carry out the tasks of daily living
  • Reduced risk of falls
  • Improved mood and self-esteem
  • Meeting and socialising with others

Real life stories from the GM Active Ageing programme making a positive difference

Barbara's Story

Following retirement, Barbara found herself struggling physically, mentally and socially, to the extent that she was in severe pain physically and struggled to talk. After being convinced to join a walking group with Trafford's Walking for Health programme, all aspects of Barbara's life began to improve, with her family all noticing the change in her.


Gordon's Story

Gordon had been married to his wife for 55 years and after having to make the difficult decision to move her to a care home, increased his walking and completed a half marathon all at the age of 83. Through attending Link4Life's walking sessions, the social aspect helped take his mind off the struggles of dealing with his wife’s dementia, releasing endorphins and reducing stress. A former soldier, Gordon has inspired many others at Veterans in the Community and the Walking Group to do more exercise. After his wife passed away and since taking part in the programme Gordon is now doing more to support veterans, recently setting himself a huge 1,000-mile walking challenge to raise money for Veterans In Communities.

Learn more about Gordon's story here