This study examined which of nine forms of social support were the strongest predictors of physical activity in older adults, and to what degree these associations were moderated by eight demographic indicators of groups at increased risk of social isolation. Baseline data from 21,491 adults aged 65 and older who were participants of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging were analyzed using multiple regression. Greater social network size, social contact with network members, and participation in community-related activities predicted greater physical activity, whereas being in a domestic partnership and perceiving more tangible support to be available were negatively associated. The strength and direction of these associations varied by sex, living arrangement, and income. Given the findings, various forms of social support should be incorporated in physical activity interventions but tailored to meet the needs of different segments of the aging population.
Social Support and Physical Activity in Older Adults: Identifying Predictors Using Data From the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging
Chantelle Zimmer and Meghan H. McDonough
Fundamental Movement Skills in Children With and Without Movement Difficulties
Chantelle Zimmer, Kerri L. Staples, and William James Harvey
The performance of various fundamental movement skills is important for children with movement difficulties (MD) to be successful in physical education and play. The current study aimed to provide a detailed understanding of the aspects impaired in the performance of static and dynamic locomotor and object control skills among children with MD, identified with the Movement Assessment Battery for Children, relative to their same-aged peers without MD. Children, 7–10 years, were recruited from three elementary schools. Eighteen children with MD (mean age = 9.14 years, SD = 0.97) and 18 without MD (mean age = 9.12 years, SD = 0.97) participated in the study. Quantitative and qualitative aspects of their movement performance were assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD-2) and PE Metrics. Children with MD demonstrated significantly poorer performance than children without MD for locomotor skills on the PE Metrics and object control skills on both the TGMD-2 and PE Metrics. The findings of this study suggest that children with MD primarily demonstrate immature movement patterns, inefficient movement strategies, and impaired aspects of movement that impact their performance for dynamic object control skills.
Experiences With Social Participation in Group Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults
Chantelle Zimmer, Meghan H. McDonough, Jennifer Hewson, Ann Toohey, Cari Din, Peter R.E. Crocker, and Erica V. Bennett
Little is known about how social participation can be facilitated among older adults in group physical activity and its psychosocial benefits that contribute to successful aging. This study aimed to understand older adults’ experiences with social participation in group physical activity programs. Using interpretive description methodology, 16 observations, eight focus groups, and two interviews with participants unable to attend focus groups were conducted with adults 55 years and older attending programs across four recreation facilities. Group programs were found to influence social participation through (a) a meaningful context for connecting and (b) instructors’ expectations of social interaction. Social participation in these programs addressed psychosocial needs by (c) increasing social contact and interaction, (d) fostering social relationships and belonging, and (e) promoting regular engagement. Training for instructors should include balancing the physical aspects of program delivery with the social, while also considering older adults’ diverse needs and preferences for social interaction.
Instructor Social Support in the Group Physical Activity Context: Older Participants’ Perspectives
Lindsay Morrison, Meghan H. McDonough, Chantelle Zimmer, Cari Din, Jennifer Hewson, Ann Toohey, Peter R.E. Crocker, and Erica V. Bennett
Instructors in organized physical activity classes can be a source of social support through their relationships with participants, influence on participants’ interactions with each other, and design of activities. Grounded in interpretive description, the objective of this study was to examine older adults’ experiences of and their perspectives on group physical activity instructors’ supportive behaviors. Observations of 16 group physical activity classes (N = 295) and focus groups or interviews with N = 38 class participants aged ≥ 55 (n = 29 women) were conducted at four municipal recreation facilities in a Canadian city. Five themes shed light on how instructors provided social support: (a) supporting autonomous engagement, (b) developing caring connections, (c) fostering trust through expert instruction, (d) managing conflict directly and effectively, and (e) creating a climate where people want to go. Instructor training should consider older adults’ social support needs and help instructors embody behaviors that support continued physical activity participation, thereby contributing to healthy aging.