The Experience and Meaning of Physical Activity in Assisted Living Facility Residents

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Assisted living (AL) residents engage in very low levels of physical activity (PA), placing them at increased risk for mobility disability and frailty. But many residents in AL may not perceive the need to increase their PA. This study explored the experience, meaning, and perceptions of PA in 20 older adults in AL. The factors associated with PA were also examined. Qualitative data were collected using semistructured interviews and analyzed using phenomenological methodology. Six themes were identified: PA was experienced as planned exercise, activities of daily living, and social activities based on a schedule or routine; PA meant independence and confidence in the future; residents perceived themselves as being physically active; social comparisons influenced perception of PA; personal health influenced PA; motivations and preferences influenced PA. The findings highlight the importance of residents’ personal perceptions of PA and effects of the social milieu in the congregate setting on PA.

Vos is with the University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, MI. Saint Arnault, Struble, Gallagher, and Larson are with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. This research was conducted at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Address author correspondence to Carol M. Vos at carolvos@umflint.edu.
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