Looking for More than Weight Loss and Fitness Gain: Psychosocial Dimensions among Older Women in a Primary-Care Exercise-Referral Program

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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There has been increasing interest in promoting health-enhancing exercise in primary-care services. One popular approach in the U.K. has been general practitioner (GP) exercise-referral plans in which mostly sedentary patients are referred by GPs to an exercise program at a local leisure center. It is not clear, however, how older women assimilate such a referral system into cognitive processes associated with physical activity involvement. This interpretivist study adopted unstructured interviewing and life-story technique to embrace subjectivity and contextuality in an attempt to capture the complex processes and to explore both common and diverse experience. The study explored referred older women's accounts of their past and current experiences of physical activity and their perceptions of what blocks or motivates them to be active. Fifteen newly referred older women (50–80 years old) were interviewed at various points during their prescribed 10-week exercise program. The findings highlight the importance of psychosocial dimensions and informal networks in the referral processes.

Hardcastle is with the Chelsea School at the University of Brighton, Eastbourne, BN20 7SP, UK. Taylor is with the Physical Activity and Health Research Unit at De Montfort University, Bedford, MK40 2BZ, UK.

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