Using a qualitative approach, the dimensions of subjective well-being of active older adults were outlined and ways identified through which they might be influenced by participation in physical activities. One-to-one and group interviews were used to collect the data. Using cross-case analysis, 17 main themes were identified. The following main dimensions emerged: developmental, material, physical, mental, and social well-being. The findings indicated that physical activity influences all dimensions of the subjective well-being of older adults, with the exception of material well-being. Physical activity appears to contribute to the mental health of older adults through maintenance of a busy and active life, mental alertness, positive attitude toward life and avoidance of stress, negative function, and isolation. The complexity of subjective well-being and the multiple roles of physical activity stress the need to extend qualitative research to sedentary older adults and the institutionalized elderly to explore the relationship between well-being and physical activity in later life.
Stathi is with the School of Sport & Leisure at the University of Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, UK GL50 4BS. Fox and McKenna, as was Stathi at the time of this research, are with the Dept. of Exercise and Health Sciences at the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK BS8 1TN.