Few studies have tried to describe in detail the actual lifetime exercise experiences of very old women. In this paper, in-depth, guided life-course interviews with three women born in or before 1900 are used to shed light upon the social forces affecting the physical activities of young girls before the turn of the century. The late-life exercise patterns of these very old women appear to be rooted in very different ways to their past. However, the information gleaned from the interviews supports the early activation hypothesis that young girls at the turn of the century who were afforded opportunities and social support to develop physical skill in sport-type activities, or were physically challenged in domestic or farm labor, still appreciate and take advantage of the health-promoting aspects of exercise over 80 years later.
Sandra O'Brien Cousins is with the Department of Physical Education and Sport Studies, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2H9. Patricia A. Vertinsky is with the School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1.