Challenges to Engaging Older Adults in a Group-Based Walking Intervention: Lessons From the Residents in Action Trial

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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Jenny L. OlsonCollege of Medicine and College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University,  State College, PA, USA
Diabetes Australia Western Australia, Subiaco, WA, Australia
Physical Activity and Well-Being Research Group, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

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Anthony PapathomasSchool of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom

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Marlene KritzPhysical Activity and Well-Being Research Group, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

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Nikos NtoumanisPhysical Activity and Well-Being Research Group, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
School of Health and Welfare, Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden

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Eleanor QuestedPhysical Activity and Well-Being Research Group, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

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Cecilie Thøgersen-NtoumaniPhysical Activity and Well-Being Research Group, School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

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This qualitative research explored older adults’ perceptions of participating in group-based walking programs set in independent-living retirement village contexts. Semistructured interviews were conducted with a subset of participants from the Residents in Action Trial. Data were analyzed through a combination of deductive and inductive thematic analysis. Findings were interpreted from a social identity perspective. Five themes were identified: (a) varying levels of social cohesion in retirement villages; (b) degree of shared identity between residents; (c) health, mobility, and preferred pace; (d) devotion to spouse; and (e) busy lives. When designing group-based walking interventions in retirement villages, it is important to consider community-level social cohesion and degree of relatedness between village residents. When attempting to build a sense of shared identity and relatedness between group members, researchers and policy makers should consider differing backgrounds, capabilities, schedules, and interests of participants.

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