Background: A major contributor of early exit from work is a decline in health with increasing age. As healthy lifestyle choices contribute to better health outcomes, an intervention aimed at an improved lifestyle is considered a potentially effective tool to keep older workers healthy and vital, and thereby to prolong labour participation.
Methods: Using the Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol, a lifestyle intervention was developed based on information obtained from 1) literature, 2) a short lifestyle questionnaire aimed at identifying the lifestyle behaviours among the target group, and 3) focusgroup (FG) interviews among 36 older workers (aged 45+ years) aimed at identifying: a) key determinants of lifestyle behaviour, b) a definition of vitality, and c) ideas about how vitality can be improved by lifestyle.The main lifestyle problems identified were: insufficient levels of physical activity and insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables. Using information from both literature and FG interviews, vitality consists of a mental and a physical component. The interviewees suggested to improve the mental component of vitality by means of relaxation exercises (e.g. yoga); physical vitality could be improved by aerobic endurance exercise and strength training.The lifestyle intervention (6 months) consists of three visits to a Personal Vitality Coach (PVC) combined with a Vitality Exercise Programme (VEP). The VEP consists of: 1) once a week a guided yoga group session aimed at relaxation exercises, 2) once a week a guided aerobic workout group session aimed at improving aerobic fitness and increasing muscle strength, and 3) older workers will be asked to perform once a week for at least 45 minutes vigorous physical activity without face-to-face instructions (e.g. fitness). Moreover, free fruit will be offered at the group sessions of the VEP. The lifestyle intervention will be evaluated in a RCT among older workers of two major academic hospitals in the Netherlands. At baseline, after 6 and 12 months, measurements (primary: lifestyle and vitality, and secondary: work-engagement and productivity) will take place.
Discussion: The lifestyle programme is developed specifically tailored to the needs of the older workers and which is aimed at improving their vitality.
Trial registration: NTR1240.