Physical activity involvement often changes as an individual gets older. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to explore the involvement in and meanings of physical activity from childhood to the present among a selected group of Native American women. The results showed that perceived meanings of physical activity remained relatively stable over the lives of these women. Two patterns of involvement emerged among the women: decliners and rejuvenators. The results suggested that physical activity as women aged was a result not of choice as often as of a life situation. Furthermore, the changes occurring in physical activity over the life course reflected social and cultural influences, as well as individual self-determination. The findings indicated that a variety of perspectives are needed if researchers are to understand the changes that occur in physical activity patterns and how both women and men of all ethnic groups might remain involved in physical activity throughout their lives.
Henderson is with the Dept of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill. NC 27599-3185. Ainsworth is with the School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.