Older Adults’ Uptake and Adherence to Exercise Classes: Instructors’ Perspectives

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Exercise classes provide a range of benefits for older adults, but adherence levels are poor. We know little of instructors’ experiences of delivering exercise classes to older adults. Semistructured interviews, informed by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), were conducted with instructors (n = 19) delivering multicomponent exercise classes to establish their perspectives on older adults’ uptake and adherence to exercise classes. Analysis revealed ‘barriers’ to uptake related to identity, choice/control, cost, and venue, and ‘solutions’ included providing choice/control, relating exercise to identity, a personal touch, and social support. Barriers to adherence included unrealistic expectations and social influences, and solutions identified were encouraging commitment, creating social cohesion, and an emphasis on achieving outcomes. Older adults’ attitudes were an underlying theme, which related to all barriers and solutions. The instructor plays an important, but not isolated, role in older adults’ uptake and adherence to classes. Instructors’ perspectives help us to further understand how we can design successful exercise classes.

Hawley-Hague and Todd are with the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. Horne is with the School of Nursing, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK. Skelton is with the School of Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK.

Address author correspondence to Helen Hawley-Hague at Helen.Hawley-Hague@manchester.ac.uk.