This phenomenological study explored the nature and meaning of being physically active from the standpoint of 15 women age 65 and older. The analysis presents a multitextured description of how 15 women maintained a physically active lifestyle for most of their lives. It provides information about why 15 older women value being physically active and how they negotiated a physically active lifestyle throughout their lives. Findings suggest that continuity of a physically active lifestyle was not a luxury these women experienced over the life course. Being physically active was affected by gender socialization, ageist attitudes, and physical challenges. Nonetheless, these long-lived, physically active women hung on to a concept of themselves as physically active; they demonstrated that active is an attitude and moving is a consequence. They have learned to improvise and, now more than ever, have taken control of their lives by being planful about being physically active.
The author is with the School of Physical Education at Pacific Lutheran University, Puyallup, WA 98737.