Location monitoring of physical activity and participation in community dwelling older people: a scoping review

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Background: Community participation and physical activity are important for the health of older adults. This review aimed to identify studies which have measured physical activity and community participation in older adults using Global positioning systems. Materials and methods: This scoping review searched key databases using predetermined subject headings and keywords. Two independent reviewers selected studies based on a systematic procedure following current guidelines. Inclusion criteria for studies were: participants aged over 50 years living independently in the community that reported on physical activity and/or participation inclusive of physical and social activity, and including a quantitative measure of location. All searches were limited to English. The primary review question was; “What studies have monitored the location of physical activity in an older population?” with secondary enquiries investigating the types of global positioning system devices, barriers and facilitators for activity and community participation. Results: The search returned 3723 articles (following duplicate removal) and 45 met the inclusion criteria. Studies from 12 countries published over a 12-year period were included. Participants were mainly healthy (n = 23) followed by having a cognitive impairment (n = 10). There were 14 different global positioning system devices used, assessing a variety of outcomes (n = 24). Seventeen studies identified facilitators and barriers to participation and physical activity in an older population. The most common facilitators were safety, weather and access to multi-purpose facilities. The most common barriers were weather, safety, low income/high deprivation areas and use of motor vehicles. Conclusion: This scoping review identified a variety of locational monitoring of older people using global positioning devices. Global positioning systems are a valuable tool to obtain accurate activity locations of older people. There is a need for clear guidelines regarding the use of global positioning system devices and specified outcomes in primary research to enable comparison across studies.Implications for rehabilitation Physical activity and community participation are vital for healthy ageing. The environment can act as a facilitator or barrier to physical activity and community participation for older adults. Interventions need to target facilitators (weather, safety, facility access and social components) to maximize physical activity and community participation in older people. Interventions should be designed to reduce the barriers (weather, safety, low income and motor vehicle dependency) that prevent older adults from actively participating in their community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-283
Number of pages14
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Community participation
  • Global positioning systems
  • Older population
  • Physical activity


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