Online Program

A qualitative exploration of characteristics of lifelong physically active older adults

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 9:06 a.m. - 9:18 a.m.

Sheryl Chatfield, M.S., CTRS, Department of HESRM, The University of Mississippi, University, MS
The results of this retrospective qualitative research augment findings from cross sectional research, which suggested that physical activity (PA) was differentially motivated through the lifespan. The researchers used a modified multiple case study approach to explore characteristics of 16 self-described lifelong active adults aged 50 or older. Interview data were further analyzed to explore how the role of PA changed over time. Results of analysis revealed that performance and competitive motivations diminished with age, not due to perceptions of decreasing ability, but more often due to changes in priorities associated with PA in middle and older adulthood. General health concerns, desire to retain optimal physical and cognitive functioning, and needs associated with spirituality emerged as primary motivators in later years. Although youth sports participation was not universal, participants viewed PA as an integral component of adult identity, sometimes more significant than family or professional roles. Unlike individuals who become active later in life, these participants did not prioritize social support or group activities; most engaged in regular PA alone, even when spouses were also regularly active. Qualitative or retrospective approaches to PA adherence research are sometimes overlooked in favor of statistical and cross sectional analyses; the results of this research demonstrate the utility of qualitative inquiry in PA research to enhance understanding of older adults' motivations. Further, greater understanding of the role and meaning of PA in individuals who maintain positive practices throughout life may improve researchers' ability to intervene at various stages of adult life.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe two distinct ways spirituality or religious beliefs may influence physical activity behaviors in older adults

Keyword(s): Aging, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have completed all coursework and successfully passed comprehensive exams toward a Ph.D. in health and kinesiology with emphasis area health behavior. My supporting coursework was completed in research methods courses and I am concurrently pursing a graduate certificate in qualitative research. My primary research interest is facilitation of lifelong physical activity through community-based interventions. Toward this end, I am working to gain understanding of the characteristics of successful activity adherents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.