Sociocultural Perspectives on Aging and Physical Activity

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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With the aging of the population, an increasing sex ratio of women to men, the potential for increased disability-free life expectancy, and increasing health-care costs, health promotion and physical activity personnel engaged in research, policy, or practice need a full understanding of the physical, cultural, and social context in which consecutive age cohorts move through life. This paper integrates research information from health promotion, the physical activity sciences, social gerontology, and demography; it is divided into six sections focusing on demographic and cultural diversity, the cultural meaning of physical activity, active lifestyles, catalysts and barriers to the emergence of an active older population, and promoting lifelong active living. Employing a macro (societal) rather than a micro (individual) level of analysis, the paper emphasizes that aging is a lifelong social process leading to diverse lifestyles in middle and later adulthood, that there is considerable heterogeneity in physical and social experiences and capacities within and between age cohorts, and that aging is a women’s issue, particularly with respect to health and activity promotion.

Barry D. McPherson is with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5.

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