Positive Peer Support Increases Physical Activity and Leads to Better Health for Seniors

Seniors Helping Seniors: Promoting and Empowering Peer Support for Seniors’ Health and Wellness



It is known that if Canadians consumed a balanced diet and exercised more, the population would be healthier and require less acute-care medical treatment. This project achieved those benefits for seniors and contributed to a reduction in healthcare expenditures by addressing seniors’ fitness and nutrition concerns and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.


Lead: Janice Monfries, Executive Director of the Westend Seniors Activity Centre, in partnership with a team of professionals from the University of Alberta and the Edmonton West Primary Care Network including a nutritionist, a registered dietitian, a senior’s recreational program planner and a fitness trainer.


The Westend Seniors Activity Centre project trained, motivated and supported a diverse group of seniors to lead a healthy lifestyle themselves and to become peer coaches for others. Programs included an eight-week customized fitness program, nutritional workshops, cooking classes, and a monthly newsletter with tips for healthy living.


This project enhanced the health and wellbeing of senior participants and shifted the focus to a more prevention-based, health promotion model of care. Within six months, monthly use of the fitness room and programs quadrupled. It expanded the program offerings in seniors centres and served as a way to connect seniors to research and healthcare expertise outside of the usual medical facilities.