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University of Bath

REtirement in ACTion (REACT) study

A study to assess the effectiveness of a physical activity intervention designed to reduce mobility disability in older people.

A group of older people take part in a session of physical activity
A REACT activity session in progress in Bristol

Physical inactivity is one of the strongest predictors of physical disability in older adults. Older adults who remain fit and active are more likely to retain physical and cognitive function, avoid disease and disability, and enjoy independence, mental wellbeing and a higher quality of life.

Physical activity in the community

REACT is assessing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a community-based physical activity intervention for reducing, or reversing the progression of functional limitations in older people who are at high risk of mobility-related disability.

A 12-month intervention programme of group sessions incorporates cardiovascular, strength, coordination and flexibility exercises. Sessions are held twice-weekly in leisure centres or health clubs in the 'adoption phase' (weeks 1-12), and weekly in the 'maintenance phase' (weeks 13-52), with social engagement and enjoyment seen as priorities. The control group receives three social and education sessions over the two years of the study.

Trial details

REACT is a full-scale, pragmatic, multi-centre, randomised controlled trial with a 24-month follow-up, based on the successful US LIFE Study.

Between February 2016 and October 2017, REACT recruited 777 people over the age of 65 to take part in the new programme delivered in local community centres in Bath, Bristol, Birmingham and in Devon ensuring economic and ethnic diversity.

Further information about this research can be found on the REACT project website.

Project Team

University of Bath

University of Birmingham

University of Bristol

University of Exeter

University of Oxford

University of West of England


Establishment of project team

1 SEP 2015  to  31 JAN 2016
  • Research Assistants were recruited at each site
  • NHS ethics application was prepared and submitted
  • Study protocol was refined
  • Study launch event was held

Internal pilot study

1 FEB 2016  to  31 MAY 2017

An internal pilot study was conducted with 12 months follow-up to evaluate and optimise the feasibility of the REACT intervention. The proposed trial methods were evaluated across a diverse sample, spanning multiple ethnic groups and areas varying in deprivation index.

The study recruited 138 people into the pilot phase. This data will be used as part of the main trial.

Full-scale trial of intervention with data collection

1 SEP 2016  to  31 DEC 2019

A full-scale pragmatic multi-centre randomised controlled trial with quantitative and qualitative data collection is currently being conducted.

This study recruited 639 people (a total 777 for the whole study).

Conclusion and write-up of findings

1 SEP 2019  to  29 FEB 2020

Data from the study will be analysed and the findings will be written up.