This research program is aimed to understand the effects of physiological and pathological ageing on mobility and to facilitate vitality and health preservation in ageing and patient populations.

Overall Aim

Physiological and pathological ageing is accompanied by a decline on structural, functional and activity levels. Muscle mass, strength and power, bone density, joint flexibility, physical endurance, cardiovascular and respiratory function, sensory acuity, and balance performance deteriorate with ageing and age-related diseases.

In addition, age-related cognitive changes that affect mobility comprise decline of attention, central information processing and executive function. These effects can increase the risk of mobility problems and lead to loss in physical functioning, such as for example gait function, and activities of daily living.

Although physical and cognitive declines appear unavoidable results of ageing, they are boosted by physical inactivity. Older people generally show a decrease in physical activity, which has been shown to be an important determinant of disability and mortality risk. In addition, inactivity levels during hospitalisation is a leading cause for rapid functional deconditioning and reduces recovery rate during and after hospital stay.

Older adults, and in particular older patients, require adequate fitness levels to maintain independence, recover from illness and reduce their high risk of falls. Understanding and advancing mobility and active aging within the ageing population is therefore currently one of the top priorities in (inter)national health care policies, but also for the target group of older adults.

The Ageing and Vitality programme of AMS uses a multidisciplinary and translational approaches. On the structural and functional level, we aim to unravel the mechanisms of ageing and pathology on mobility and physical functioning, to obtain insight into mechanistic, predictive and limiting factors for mobility and possibly into targets for intervention.

At the behavioural level, we focus on risk factors and facilitators for activities of daily living and daily physical activity, to develop and evaluate prevention and intervention programmes. We combine subjective (perceived) and objective (clinical assessments and innovative technological instrumentation) measures of physical functioning, and discrepancies between these measures on group and individual level, towards personalized interventions to facilitate healthy life style and physical functioning/recovery pre, during and post hospitalisation in the ageing popultation.

Program Board

  • Professor dr. Carel Meskers, Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc (Program director);
  • Professor dr. Mirjam Pijnappels, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, VU Amsterdam (Program deputy director);
  • Dr. Marike van der Schaaf, Amsterdam UMC, location AMC;
  • Dr. Rob Wust, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, VU Amsterdam;
  • Dr. Bart Visser, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA);
  • Laure Verstraeten, PhD candidate, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Science, VU Amsterdam.

Program Members