An insider's view on physical activity in later life

Objectives The purpose of this study was to explore the meanings people over 70 years of age attribute to their experience when endeavouring to engage in a more physically active lifestyle. Method Drawing on the tenets of phenomenology meant the empiricism of the study was grounded in the everyday details and social context of the lived experience. Seventeen women and nine men participated in interviews that were audio recorded then analysed using a process of inductive analysis and constant comparison. This process resulted in the emergence of four themes that are used to elucidate the essence of the participants’ experiences. Results Within 2 months of seeking advice about an exercise programme the majority of participants were unable to persevere with any commitment or regularity to their proposed lifestyle change. The reasons for this were numerous and varied. Rather than getting caught up in the pursuit of what might be termed optimal health, most participants held a belief that for their older body to maintain a good level of functional ability, it must be a busy body. This highlights a difference between the scientific meaning, and the socially and culturally constructed meanings with regards to what levels physical activity are necessary for good health in later life. Conclusion The knowledge, beliefs and attitudes older people have regarding the importance of physical activity in later life do not necessarily mean leading an active lifestyle. Furthermore, it is evident there are variety of perspectives with regards to how the concept of optimum health permeates the way we have come to define physical activity and health-related fitness in later life.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Grant, B. C. (2008). An insider's view on physical activity in later life. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9(6), 817-829.