Older Adults’ Constraints to Participation in Structured Exercise Classes

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study used a qualitative, feminist perspective to examine issues pertaining to exercise constraints among older adults. Participants were 8 male and 9 female older adults (mean age = 76.7) who chose not to engage in structured exercise classes. Twenty-six self-identified constraints were elicited (mean = four per person). Additionally, four constraints per person from previous research were selected. The most frequently cited self-reported constraints were “get enough exercise elsewhere,” health-related items, and issues related to time. From the constraints most frequently cited in past studies, inconvenience, time, and type of activity were selected most often. Gender differences were apparent in the constraints chosen as well as reasons why a particular constraint inhibited or prohibited activity. Specific suggestions for strategies included having programs with a purpose, building in flexibility, and encouraging men to participate. The influence of gender is explored, especially how expanding our understanding of gender issues might improve program planning.

Diane E. Whaley and Vicki Ebbeck are with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Langton Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3303.

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