Experiences and Strategies Influencing Older Adults to Continue Playing Walking Football

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Adults aged 55+ years are most likely to be inactive, despite research suggesting that older adults experience multiple benefits when participating in physical activity and sport. Limited research focuses on long-term continuation of sport participation in this population, especially in “adapted sports” like walking football. This study explored the experiences of walking football maintenance in 55- to 75-year-old players. Semistructured interviews were conducted, with 17 older adults maintaining walking football play over 6 months. The inductive analysis revealed five higher-order themes representing maintenance influences and two higher-order themes relating to maintenance mechanisms (i.e., the conscious process by which players maintain). Influences when maintaining walking football included individual- and culture-level influences (e.g., perceived benefits of maintenance and ability acceptance). Maintenance mechanisms included cognitions and behaviors (e.g., scheduling sessions and redefining physical activity expectations). Findings highlight novel implications for policy and practice, which are important to consider when delivering walking football to older adults.

Cholerton and Breckon are with the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Quirk is with the School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Butt is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom.

Cholerton (R.Cholerton@shu.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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