Expanding the Agenda for Research on the Physically Active Aging Body

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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Cassandra Phoenix
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Bevan Grant
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In this article, the authors consider the different approaches that can be used to examine the relationship between physical activity and aging. They propose that much is to be gained in our awareness of this dynamic relationship by drawing on multiple forms of knowledge that can generate diverse understandings regarding the impact of physical activity on physiological, psychological, and social aspects of aging. Accordingly, 3 different approaches to understanding the older physically (in)active body are presented. These are categorized as (a) the objective truth about the aging, physically active body; (b) the subjective truth about the aging, physically active body; and (c) “tales” about the aging, physically active body. The key underpinnings, strengths, and weaknesses of each approach are outlined. A number of examples from the literature are also offered to demonstrate where and how each approach has been used to contribute to our understanding about older people and physical activity. The more thorough, multidisciplinary, and wide spanning our knowledge of the aging, active body is, the more informed we might become in every dimension of its existence.

Phoenix is with the School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Devon, EX8 1AS, UK. Grant is with Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

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