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The activity needs of Australia’s booming ageing population are set for a boost, as a result of the recent awarding of a prestigious ARC Future Fellowship to Deakin’s Professor Ester Cerin.
Professor Cerin is one of two Deakin researchers (along with Associate Professor Kate Buchanan) to receive a Future Fellowship this year. The Fellowship provides four years of funding to undertake significant research “in areas of critical national importance” - and is one of Australia’s most prestigious awards for mid-career researchers.
Professor Cerin, from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, and the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN), will investigate how urban environments can support active lifestyles for those in mid-to-late adulthood, through examination of a suite of national and international epidemiological studies.
Professor Cerin explained that the proportion of older adults in urban areas is growing rapidly and leading to increases in health-care costs associated with chronic disease.
“We are still unclear about how urban community designs shape the physical activity of this age group, so this research will seek to answer a range of complex questions about these issues,” said Professor Cerin.
“My project aims to inform public policy and aid activity-friendly design by identifying the optimal mix and distribution of facilities and places to visit for active ageing. We will also take into account factors that define people’s ability and willingness to visit these destinations.”
The project will seek to identify the types of destinations, services and facilities that would best contribute to physical activity, as well as determine whether the lack of certain facilities in neighbourhoods could be offset by providing easy access to public transport, for instance.
“The ARC Future Fellowships were announced while I was in Hong Kong working on an international project related to this new research,” said Professor Cerin. “When I checked my emails and saw three messages congratulating me, I stood there staring at the screen while going through states of astonishment, happiness, excitement and gratitude.”
“I only moved back to Australia to join Deakin (C-PAN) last year, after having worked in Hong Kong and the USA for seven years studying the impact of the built and social environment on physical activity in various populations. This Fellowship will allow me to continue my research in Australia, focusing on an important, growing, but under-studied segment of the population: older adults.”
“I am very grateful for being given the opportunity to do this work and for all the continuing support from Deakin, and my national and international colleagues, who contributed to this Fellowship application.”