Centre of Expertise Urban Vitality


The AUAS research group Urban Vitality focuses on the vitality of Amsterdam's residents. How can they stay healthy or become even healthier? This covers everyone, from high-level competitive athletes to people who need the very best care, from diabetics to wheelchair basketball players and every group in between.


We are facing many major lifestyle challenges. More than 30% of people who live in Amsterdam suffer from co-morbid (and sometimes chronic) diseases, the population is ageing and the ‘public health gap’ is increasing, meaning that highly educated residents live longer and stay healthier than those with low levels of education or on low incomes.

Through its Urban Vitality programme, AUAS seeks to address these challenges so that vitality is brought within reach of all of those living in Amsterdam.

The Urban Vitality research programme has yielded a number of interventions and products over the past few years, including the following:

  • The PAUL project resulted in an app that motivates people to start and keep exercising in Amsterdam's Oosterpark.
  • At the behest of the municipality of Amsterdam, the MAMBO project gathers data on the motor development and BMI of around 5,000 primary school pupils. The results will put PE teachers in a better position to tailor their classes to pupils.
  • Amsterdam-Zuidoost recently saw the opening of the Wijkkliniek (‘community clinic’), a brainchild of AUAS and AMC professor Bianca Buurman, where elderly people who suffer from urgent health problems can go to recuperate.
  • As a result of the findings of the Ouders bij de Visite (‘parents on the ward’) project, the Emma Children's Hospital now closely involves parents in consultations between medical staff.
  • As part of the two-year ProMIO project, researchers are developing an exercise and nutrition programme specifically designed to combat loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) among elderly immigrants.

To be able to address lifestyle challenges, we conduct research in real-life environments, such as care centres, schools and neighbourhoods. In these ‘living labs’, we actively engage patients and the local community with the research and incorporate their experiences.

Within the Urban Vitality programme, professors, researchers, lecturers, students and stakeholders from the professional field work together to make the city healthier. The researchers and students hail from a number of different subject areas (programme lines), which helps them boost each other's efforts.

As an example, students and researchers from the Nutrition & Dietetics and Physiotherapy programmes cooperate closely to combine physical training and nutrition. Elsewhere, students and researchers from the Mensendieck Kinetics Therapy and Occupational Therapy programmes often work with the Digital Life professorship to investigate digital health care solutions.

Another example is the research project SO-HIP, in which students and researchers help elderly people who suffered a hip fracture and are experiencing a fear of falling to recuperate with the aid of sensor technology: wearable sensors and sensors placed around the home.

Urban Vitality's research outcomes lead to material solutions for local residents, patients and athletes. They also find their way into publications and lectures.

Furthermore, new insights lead to educational innovation and new minors and Master's degree programmes, such as the Master's in Critical Care.

Lastly, Urban Vitality research leads to new methods for the professional field, such as handbooks and instruments.

The combination of professional practice, research and education (trias academica) is one of Urban Vitality's key points of departure.

Lecturer-researchers incorporate the knowledge they gain and their research experiences into the curriculum in order to equip students with the latest insights from professional practice and an inquisitive attitude with regard to their studies. At the same time, stakeholders from the professional field benefit from the cooperation by acquiring the most up-to-date scientific insights into their subject areas.

To find out more, read the story of heart patient Jan Tielkemeijer, who gave AUAS Nursing and Physiotherapy students a frank account of his fears during their visit to the AMC (Amsterdam UMC). The AUAS Nursing degree programme invited Jan to relate his story to highlight the lack of awareness in the health care sector of the fear of exercising that many heart patients experience.

Published by  Urban Vitality 11 January 2024