Exploring the Experience of Exercise in Older Adults With Chronic Back Pain

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Physical inactivity and chronic back pain are prevalent among older adults; however, there are individuals who persist in exercising despite daily pain. This research explored the meaning of exercise in the lives of older adults with chronic back pain. Hermeneutic phenomenology, valuing everyday experiences and highlighting meaning, was employed. Individual in-depth interviews with 10 adults aged 65 years and older gathered rich descriptions of their experiences. Data collection and analyses were iterative processes. The experience of exercise was inextricably connected with older adults’ chronic back pain. The essence of embodied relief from pain offered by exercise was considered through themes reflecting the restoration of existential coherence—enjoying exercise experiences, social engagement, gratitude, learned latitudes, maintaining mobility, and aging. Understanding that older adults can live in their bodies pain-free for some time with regular physical activity may endorse adherence to exercise participation for maintained or improved well-being.

Hay is with Health & Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada. Connelly is with the School of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada.

Hay (melissa.erin.hay@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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