Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Business


Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Associate Professor Nadine Henley


Participation in physical activity confers many health benefits by reducing the risk factor for a number of lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes, colon cancer, and heart disease. Other benefits include improved mental and physical well-being. For older people the benefits are even more important; engagement in physical activity extends to such health benefits as reduction in the risk of falls and related potential injuries. However the most significant benefit to older people is that physical activity enables older people to live independently for longer and with a greater sense of well-being. This study explores, through qualitative research, older people's attitudes to physical activity in general and to the recommendations in the National Physical Activity Guidelines (NPAGs) in particular with the aim of developing recommendations for social marketing practitioners when designing messages about physical activity targeted at older people. Eight focus groups were conducted with male and female, blue and white collar, 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' older people, 65-85 years of age. Ajzen and Fishbein's (1980) Theory of Reasoned Action was the theoretical framework for the study. The study aimed to establish participants' affective, cognitive, and behavioural responses to the recommendations contained in the NPAGs. This theory distinguishes between the person's beliefs relating to the object or issue and the person's perceptions of how they believe other people will react to the same object or issue. That is, social norms influence attitudes and behaviour. There were four major findings from this study. Firstly, it emerged that many of the participants thought that engagement in physical activity meant doing something 'extra' to a normally physically active day; thus the message that incidental activity is beneficial to health needs to be effectively disseminated amongst older people. Secondly, the message relating to the accumulation of short bouts of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the day had not reached all participants, also suggesting that effective dissemination of this message is warranted. Thirdly, some participants stated that by engaging in physical activity they enjoyed a better night's sleep. Lastly, it emerged that source credibility was an issue for some participants. There was a specific concern that someone 'young' was telling them what to do. Social marketing practitioners could incorporate these findings into a physical activity campaign directed at older people. In addition, it is suggested that an appropriate marketing 'place' strategy would be the use of shopping centres as this would reduce perceived effort and inconvenience as well as reducing psychological costs related to fear of falling, fear of uncontrolled dogs, and fear of crime.