Introduction to the Ageing & Vitality Research Program

Overall Aim

This research program is aimed at understanding the effects of physiological and pathological ageing on mobility, and to facilitate vitality and health preservation in ageing and patient populations.

Physiological and pathological ageing is accompanied by a decline on structural, functional and activity levels. Muscle mass, strength and power, bone density, joint flexibility, physical endurance, cardiovascular and respiratory function, sensory acuity, as well as balance performance deteriorate with ageing and age-related diseases. In addition, age-related cognitive changes that affect mobility comprise decline of attention, central information processing and executive function. These effects can increase the risk of mobility problems and lead to loss in physical functioning, such as for example gait function and activities of daily living.

Although physical and cognitive declines appear unavoidable results of ageing, they are boosted by physical inactivity. Older people generally show a decrease in physical activity, which has been shown to be an important determinant of disability and mortality risk. In addition, inactivity levels during hospitalisation is a leading cause for rapid functional deconditioning and reduces recovery rate during and after a hospital stay. Older adults, and in particular older patients, require adequate fitness levels to maintain independence, recover from illness and reduce their high risk of falls. Understanding and advancing mobility and active aging within the ageing population is therefore currently one of the top priorities in (inter)national health care policies, but also for the target group of older adults.

The AMS Ageing and Vitality programme uses multidisciplinary and translational approaches. On the structural and functional level, we aim to unravel the mechanisms of ageing and pathology on mobility and physical functioning, to obtain insight into mechanistic, predictive and limiting factors for mobility and possibly into targets for intervention. At the behavioural level, we focus on risk factors and facilitators for activities of daily living and daily physical activity, to develop and evaluate prevention and intervention programmes. We combine subjective (perceived) and objective (clinical assessments and innovative technological instrumentation) measures of physical functioning, and discrepancies between these measures on group and on an individual level, towards personalized interventions in order to facilitate healthy life style and physical functioning/recovery pre, during and post hospitalisation in the ageing population.

Program Board (provisional)

  • Professor dr. Mirjam Pijnappels, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, VU (Program director);
  • Dr. Carel Meskers, Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc (Program deputy director);
  • Dr. Marike van der Schaaf, Amsterdam UMC, location AMC;
  • TBA ECR and PhD candidate members.

Program Members

  • All AMS researchers that work in, or have affinity with, the research field of Ageing & Vitality.