Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Abstract

The increasing number of older Australians who are living sedentary lifestyles is of great concern due to the significant implications of increasing health risks for these people and the increasing pressure on the nation's welfare services as well as its health care systems. To alleviate the pressure, factors that motivate or inhibit older adults' engagement in physical activity should be identified. The purpose of the current review is to examine the literature that is relevant to the engagement in physical activity past the age of 65. Issues of prevalence, benefits, risks, deterrents and attractions of physical activity in older adulthood are reviewed. It is shown that whilst the benefits and minimal risks related to physical activity in older adulthood are well documented, much of the research regarding older adults' engagement in exercise is flawed. Methodological limitations include low response rates, a lack of rich data, and studies not being specific to the Australian population. It was established that, in order to reduce the increasing burden placed on the health care system, future research should address the methodological limitations and that explorations of the perspective of the aged themselves on physical activity could make significant contributions to the body of knowledge, enhance practice and lead to informed policies. The growing number of older Australians who are living sedentary lifestyles is of concern due to the significant implications of increasing health risks for these people. Coupled with the predicted increase in the proportion of older adults in the population (from 12.5% in 2004 to 27% by 2051; Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABS, 2000) these health risks threaten the nation's welfare services and health care systems. The current study utilised in-depth interviews and a qualitative approach to explore older adults' perspectives on engaging in physical activity past the age of 65. Three main themes emerged from the data: secondary reinforcement, which related to attractions to physical activity; health factors that related to biopsychosocial factors; and lifestyle choice, which concerned personal choices and habits. It was found that factors that could potentially improve the quality of life in older adulthood, such as enhanced health and secondary reinforces were key attractions to physical activity. The perceived physical and psychological declines associated with the ageing process were identified as significant 'barriers to engaging in physical activity in older adulthood. The findings of the current study make a unique contribution to the body of knowledge, and provide a case for further studies in order to inform practice and policy formulation.

Included in

Gerontology Commons

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