Keeping veterans healthy and connected

22 October 2020

Facilitating a physically active lifestyle and better social connectedness for Brisbane-based military veterans is the focus of a new program being trialled by researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ).

Funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Active Choices is a physical activity support program that aims to help ex-Australian Defence Force veterans and their families maintain regular physical activity within their local communities.

Military service veterans are at greater risk of experiencing social isolation due to challenges in transitioning to civilian life, the loss of important social bonds with fellow service personnel, and a higher prevalence of some mental health issues.

The 12-week program links participants to community-based physical activities such as group exercise classes, walking groups, and social sports teams, with the aim of identifying a particular activity that they enjoy and are likely to stick to.

Dr Zoe Papinczak from UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences said taking part in regular physical activity that involves a social aspect can have positive effects on both physical and mental health.

“Our goal is to help participants implement a routine that is personalised to their preferences and needs, as well as being fun and providing opportunities for social connection at a time when it's needed most.” Dr Papinczak said.

During the course of the program, participants will attend four one-hour consultations at UQ’s St Lucia Campus, and two 30-minute virtual consultations, where they will receive a tailored activity program, and support on managing their physical activity.

Participants will complete several health measures, as well as wear a physical activity monitor at the beginning and end of the program, to aid the research team in evaluating the program’s effectiveness.

“The program includes financial support for participants to access their chosen activity, and is the first of its kind to be rolled out and tested with Australian military veterans.” Dr Papinczak said.

The program is open to Department of Veterans’ Affairs White and Gold Cardholders living in the Brisbane region, who are currently receiving treatment from an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist.

For more details on eligibility and how to get involved, visit the Active Choices website.

Media: Dr Zoe Papinczak, +61 3365 7453,; Jo Hickman, UQ Communications,