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An Argument for a Developmental Approach in Studying Older Adults’ Physical Activity

Diane E. Whaley

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Body Composition, Muscle Capacity, and Physical Function in Older Adults: An Integrated Conceptual Model

Anne O. Brady, Chad R. Straight, and Ellen M. Evans

The aging process leads to adverse changes in body composition (increases in fat mass and decreases in skeletal muscle mass), declines in physical function (PF), and ultimately increased risk for disability and loss of independence. Specific components of body composition or muscle capacity (strength and power) may be useful in predicting PF; however, findings have been mixed regarding the most salient predictor of PF. The development of a conceptual model potentially aids in understanding the interrelated factors contributing to PF with the factors of interest being physical activity, body composition, and muscle capacity. This article also highlights sex differences in these domains. Finally, factors known to affect PF, such as sleep, depression, fatigue, and self-efficacy, are discussed. Development of a comprehensive conceptual model is needed to better characterize the most salient factors contributing to PF and to subsequently inform the development of interventions to reduce physical disability in older adults.

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Learning to Run From Narrative Foreclosure: One Woman’s Story of Aging and Physical Activity

Meridith Griffin and Cassandra Phoenix

In this article, the authors construct a story of one woman’s (Justine’s) experience of learning to run within the context of a beginners group. Building on existing scholarship on narrative, aging, and physical activity, this work is part of a larger ethnographic project examining subjective accounts of the physically active aging body across the life course. Concerned with often simplistically linear problems of representation, the authors present a messy text that represents the complex and fluid nature of Justine’s embodied tale. The aim is to show the intersection of biographical (storied) identity with health behavior choices and to interrogate the process of challenging narrative foreclosure. By using the emerging genre of messy text as a creative analytic practice, the authors avoid prompting a single, closed, convergent reading of Justine’s story. Instead, they provoke interpretation within the reader as witness and expand the ways in which research on aging and physical activity has been represented.

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Physical Activity, Age, and Arthritis: Exploring the Relationships of Major Risk Factors on Biopsychosocial Symptomology and Disease Status

Rachael C. Stone and Joseph Baker

The prevalence of arthritis in aging populations continues to rapidly grow. Research has highlighted 2 principal risk factors for progression of arthritis-related biopsychosocial symptoms: age and physical inactivity. This study examined the relationship between and within physical activity and age on biopsychosocial symptoms of arthritis in adults (age ≥ 30 yr). Hierarchical, multiple-regression analyses were conducted on the Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 4.2, 2009–2010, N = 19,103). Results revealed that more-active adults had significantly fewer symptoms (physical unstd. B = −.23, p ≤ .001; pyschosocial unstd. B = −.51, p ≤ .001). In addition, as age increased, physical symptoms intensified and psychosocial symptoms tapered (physical unstd. B = .24, p ≤ .001; psychosocial unstd. B = −.45, p ≤ .001). Inactive older adults had the highest level of physical symptoms, while inactive younger adults had the highest level of psychosocial symptoms (p ≤ .001). Findings highlight the need to target physical activity interventions to specific age cohorts and particular biopsychosocial symptomologies.

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Development and Validation of the Aging Stereotypes and Exercise Scale

Aïna Chalabaev, Mélanie Emile, Karine Corrion, Yannick Stephan, Corentin Clément-Guillotin,, Christian Pradier, and Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville

This article presents the development and validation of the Aging Stereotypes and Exercise Scale (ASES), which measures different dimensions of aging stereotypes in the exercise domain. Drawing on past research on older adults’ perceived barriers to exercise, these dimensions include stereotypes about positive and negative exercise outcomes for older adults and about older adults’ psychological barriers to exercise (i.e., lack of self-efficacy and motivation). Four studies involving 714 participants examined the factorial structure and invariance, temporal stability, and external validity of the scale. The results supported a 3-factor model that was invariant across age. Age differences in stereotype content appeared, with older adults holding more positive stereotypes than younger adults. Also as predicted, the more older adults endorsed negative stereotypes, the lower their physical self-worth, self-rated health, and subjective age. Last, responses to the ASES appeared to be stable over a 6-wk period.

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Going for the Gusto: Competing for the First Time at Age 65

Jessica Brooke Kirby and Mary Ann Kluge

Older adults are often viewed by society more for what they cannot do than for what they are capable of achieving. This intrinsic case study examined the formation of a women’s 65+ volleyball team at a university for the purpose of better understanding what it was like for older women to learn a new sport and what meaning participating in competitive sport had for those who had not previously been considered athletic. Qualitative methods explored each participant’s experiences through a focus group, individual interviews, observational notes, and written reflections. Resulting team member themes included going for the gusto, belonging to a team, and support from the university. This program is a potential model to engage nonathletic older adults in sport, while forging a new and positive aging framework for aging athletes.

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Older Black Women’s Experiences Initiating and Maintaining Physical Activity: Implications for Theory and Practice

Anna E. Price, Beau Greer, and Ash Tucker

Using a semistructured discussion guide, the authors conducted 15 interviews with physically active older Black women living in the eastern U.S. to examine what contributed to their physical activity initiation and maintenance. They used thematic analysis to organize content and constant-comparison methods to compare themes between participants. Participants initiated physical activity when a cue to action, such as weight gain or a medical issue, triggered a perceived need to exercise. When participants initiated physical activity, they experienced immediate unexpected benefits such as improved energy. They reported continuing activity because of these initial benefits. After continued physical activity over time, participants experienced the health benefits they originally hoped to achieve. Most participants also mentioned continuing physical activity because it is “me time.” All participants reported needing to modify their physical activity routine at some point. Having a regular, yet adaptable, routine and planning skills helped participants maintain physical activity. These findings contribute to the refinement of theory and might be useful for professionals promoting physical activity among older Black women.

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Upper Extremity Muscle Volumes and Functional Strength After Resistance Training in Older Adults

Melissa Daly, Meghan E. Vidt, Joel D. Eggebeen,, W. Greg Simpson, Michael E. Miller, Anthony P. Marsh, and Katherine R. Saul

Aging leads to a decline in strength and an associated loss of independence. The authors examined changes in muscle volume, maximum isometric joint moment, functional strength, and 1-repetition maximum (1RM) after resistance training (RT) in the upper extremity of older adults. They evaluated isometric joint moment and muscle volume as predictors of functional strength. Sixteen healthy older adults (average age 75 ± 4.3 yr) were randomized to a 6-wk upper extremity RT program or control group. The RT group increased 1RM significantly (p < .01 for all exercises). Compared with controls, randomization to RT led to greater functional pulling strength (p = .003), isometric shoulder-adduction moment (p = .041), elbow-flexor volume (p = .017), and shoulder-adductor volume (p = .009). Shoulder-muscle volumes and isometric moments were good predictors of functional strength. The authors conclude that shoulder strength is an important factor for performing functional reaching and pulling tasks and a key target for upper extremity RT interventions.

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Functional Fitness and Physical Activity of Portuguese Community-Residing Older Adults

Élvio R. Gouveia, José A. Maia, Gaston P. Beunen, Cameron J. Blimkie, Ercília M. Fena, and Duarte L. Freitas

The purposes of this study were to generate functional-fitness norms for Portuguese older adults, to determine age and sex differences, and to analyze the physical activity–associated variation in functional fitness. The sample was composed of 802 older adults, 401 men and 401 women, age 60–79 yr. Functional fitness was assessed using the Senior Fitness Test. Physical activity level was estimated via the Baecke questionnaire. The P50 values decreased from 60 to 64 to 75 to 79 yr of age. A significant main effect for age group was found in all functional-fitness tests. Men scored significantly better than women in the chair stand, 8-ft up-and-go, and 6-min walk. Women scored significantly better than men in chair sit-and-reach and back scratch. Active participants scored better in functional-fitness tests than their average and nonactive peers. This study showed a decline in functional fitness with age, better performance of men, and increased proficiency in active participants.

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Increased Muscle Size and Strength From Slow-Movement, Low-Intensity Resistance Exercise and Tonic Force Generation

Yuya Watanabe, Michiya Tanimoto, Akane Ohgane, Kiyoshi Sanada, Motohiko Miyachi, and Naokata Ishii

The authors investigated the effects of low-intensity resistance training on muscle size and strength in older men and women. Thirty-five participants (age 59–76 yr) were randomly assigned to 2 groups and performed low-intensity (50% of 1-repetition maximum) knee-extension and -flexion exercises with either slow movement and tonic force generation (LST; 3-s eccentric, 3-s concentric, and 1-s isometric actions with no rest between repetitions) or normal speed (LN; 1-s concentric and 1-s eccentric actions with 1-s rests between repetitions) twice a week for 12 wk (2-wk preparation and 10-wk intervention). The LST significantly increased thigh-muscle thickness, as well as isometric knee-extension and -flexion strength. The LN significantly improved strength, but its hypertrophic effect was limited. These results indicate that even for older individuals, the LST can be an effective method for gaining muscle mass and strength.