Physical Activity & Plasticity of Aging

This research area is geared towards improving or maintaining functioning (be it cognitive, physical, etc.) of older adults living in the community and in retirement and long-term care settings using innovative assessment, rehabilitation, and training programs. There is considerable research evidence demonstrating that the body is still “plastic” (plasticity refers to the ability to change) into the 90s and that this plasticity can result in changes to functional abilities. The literature is also clear in revealing that the secret of maintaining functional independence is to maintain or improve one’s fitness level.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPractical Applications

  • Improving or maintaining seniors’ levels of functional independence in the community and in retirement/long-term care.
  • Creating individualized care plans for residents in long-term care based on the results of comprehensive physical and neurobehavioural assessments.
  • Identifying falls risk factors for older adults living in long-term care and retirement homes and developing interprofessional falls prevention programs and strategies.
  • Developing innovative opportunities for residents to exercise individually or in groups

Project Highlights

  • Developing the Program for Active Living (PAL) to improve or maintain seniors’ levels of functional abilities using innovative assessment, rehabilitation, and training programs.
  • Developing a reliable assessment of functional abilities: the Schlegel Functional Fitness Assessment (SFFA).
  • Examining changes in physical activity throughout the transition from community living to congregate care.
  • Examining the relationships between muscle weakness and functional measures of balance and gait.


Research Scientists

  • Quincy Almeida, PhD (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • Denise Connelly, PhD (University of Western Ontario)
  • Jim Frank, PhD (St. Jerome’s University, University of Waterloo)
  • Lora Giangregorio, PhD (University of Waterloo)
  • Renee MacPhee, PhD (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • Bill McIlroy, PhD (University of Waterloo)
  • Laura Middleton, PhD (University of Waterloo)
  • Eric Roy, PhD (University of Waterloo)
  • Pat Spadafora, MSW (Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Sheridan Elder Research Centre)
  • Lori Ann Vallis, PhD (University of Guelph)