Editors’ Picks 2015: Part Four

Long-term health effects of exercise for the elderly: study protocol


Each day this week we’ve been looking at a published paper from 2015 that sparked the interest of one of our staff editors. Our fourth pick is a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of exercise training in an elderly population.

BMJ Open supports the publication of study protocols to improve transparency in the ‘research to publication’ process and to protect the wider community against numerous damaging research practices, such as publication bias and HARKing.

In this study protocol, Dorthe Stensvold and colleagues from Norway, Australia and the USA aim to evaluate the effects of 5 years of exercise training on mortality in an elderly population. Whilst previous epidemiological studies have indicated that physical activity is associated with reduced risk of premature death and that changes in fitness predict mortality, it is unclear whether the level of physical activity is the direct cause of favourable health effects rather than other factors associated with a person’s state of health.

The proposed study in just under 1600 participants is considered to be the first randomised controlled trial to assess the effect of exercise training on mortality and morbidity in an elderly population. The protocol currently has 6 citations in Google Scholar, suggesting that the article has been a useful addition to the scholarly literature since it was published in February 2015.

If you are interested in learning more about study protocols then check out BMJ’s recently launched e-learning programme: Research to Publication. The programme includes a free taster module on how to write and publish a study protocol. If you successfully complete the module, then you will receive formal recognition with a certificate from The BMJ’s Editor-in-Chief and UCSF’s associate dean. If you provide this certificate when you submit your study protocol to BMJ Open, then you will receive a 75% reduction on the open access publication fee if your article is accepted.