Healthy Region for healthier choices

A short-term lifestyle intervention for the elderly

A healthy region is a region where people age in good health. HZ University of Applied Sciences investigated a short-term lifestyle intervention for the elderly and found evidence that the programme inspired participants to make healthier choices.

Icon healthy region lectorship HZ university of applied sciences
Icon healthy region lectorship HZ

The Province of Zeeland has its specific challenges: although its population’s lifespan has increased, health span (number of healthy years) has not. Compared to other regions, inhabitants are more anxious and suffer from more chronic conditions. To enhance health span, HZ University of Applied Sciences in Vlissingen studied the effects of an exercise programme primarily aimed at keeping the elderly fit with short-term lifestyle interventions, based on the theory of Short Intensive Training (SIT).


Middle-aged and elderly participants exercised twice a week in a fitness centre for three months, using a standard training programme designed to improve bodily functions and fitness. After three months the participants felt overall more fit and reported having more energy. Their BMI, their fat percentage, and abdominal circumference had also dropped on average. Results indicate that this kind of short-term lifestyle intervention positively influenced people’s well-being, but the evidence needs to be strengthened by follow-up research.

Health promotion in the region

To further stimulate an active lifestyle for both inhabitants and tourists, the region’s distinctive features, e.g. tourism and the Zeeland islands, deliver inspiration for new initiatives such as the coast marathon or the ‘Cycling against the wind’ championship, that get masses of people on the move.

Other research projects on healthy regions

  • Connecting tourism and healthcare. In SAIL, a European project, researchers investigate how tourist facilities like swimming pools and restaurants can be used to optimise healthy living for inhabitants.
  • On the basis of a Horizon 2020 EU project, the key aspects of a healthy region (such as sufficient exercise, healthy eating, a good balance between effort and rest, and fulfilment) are used to formulate a new quality framework for elderly care.


Healthy Region Lectorate
HZ University of Applied Sciences
Professor Olaf Timmermans
Mobile: +31 6 26 552 531

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