Skip to main content

Film Active: challenging ageism in physical activity

Our research aims to tackle some of the issues that deter older adults from taking part in physical activity through an innovative, video-based approach.



Project status



1 Sep 2021 to 31 Aug 2022

Two older women in sportswear exercising in a park.
Older adults can often feel excluded or poorly supported to keep active. Image: Centre for Ageing Better.

About this project

This project involves working with older adults to create short, thought-provoking video clips demonstrating factors that put them off being active, and show some good examples of how inclusive environments and products can help them to do more.

Older adults tell us that some of the factors that hold them back can be a result of negative stereotypes of ageing, often unintentional, which can leave them feeling less welcome and catered for by the services and products that help younger people to stay active. We believe this issue needs action at a whole society level, and hope to provoke people to think differently about later life physical activity.

These ‘trigger films’ will aim to spark a societal shift in opinions and attitudes, prompting people to see things differently. We are hoping to co-create attention-grabbing and attitude-shifting video resources and test their effects on reducing stereotypes across society.


UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)


Increasing physical activity in older age helps to reduce, delay or even reverse the development of chronic diseases, and can improve mobility, enhance wellbeing and reduce social isolation.

However, most older adults don’t get enough physical activity to benefit. Some of this may be due to negative social stereotypes about what older adults can and can’t do, and depictions of older people as either unrealistically active, running marathons, or frail and incapable.

Negative stereotypes can make older adults feel less welcome or accepted in the spaces where activity happens, which may reduce physical activity and opportunities for enjoyable social activities. This can also deter the providers of products and services that promote physical activity from catering for older adults; they are not seen as the large, diverse and important set of customers and clients that they really are.

Often these barriers are not deliberate, but are rather the consequence of not fully considering the needs of older adults in addition to younger customers. In other walks of life, where we design to be age-inclusive, access improves for everyone.

Project team

Expected outputs

  • Analysis of stakeholders from the physical activity industry's views about how, if and why they provide and adapt products and services for older adults
  • Prototype video clips highlighting where and how older adults feel they have poorer access to support in physical activity settings, where small changes could make a big difference
  • Designs for pilot work to refine and test the impact of the films on members of the physical activity industry

Phase 1: Defining the problem

September 2021 to December 2021

  • Initial work has been carried out with both stakeholders working in the physical activity industry, and older adults themselves, to better define the problem
  • A public advisory group has been established to help us understand what the negative stereotypes of ageing feel like, what words best describe the experience, and how they’d like to see us going about this project
  • Focus groups have been conducted with older adults to explore the types of scenarios they think show up in everyday ageism, and to hear their views on how we might interest people in taking part

Phase 2: Film creation

January 2022 to April 2022

  • We will recruit members of the public to help create film content to demonstrate to people working in the physical activity industry what is holding older users back, or putting them off.
  • Recruitment will run until April 2022 and is inclusive of people of all ages. All that is needed is an idea for a point that is important to get across, and willingness to have a go at creating a film with their friends and family
  • A key focus of the film clips will be encouraging people from different generations to work on them together – not only will they have different skills and experience, but we think this will help to make the project fun to be a part of and result in some surprising experiences captured on film

Phase 3: Stakeholder consultation

May 2022 to July 2022

  • Once edited and finalised, the video clips will be shown in workshops to industry stakeholders to seek their views on the message that they put across
  • We will seek advice from stakeholder colleagues on how the films could be used within businesses and organisations to start challenging negative stereotypes

News and updates

The latest news and updates from this project.

Join one of our events or find out more about getting involved in the project

Find out more

Contact us

If you have any questions about this project, please contact us.