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  • Author: Nancy A. Gallagher x
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Carol M. Vos, Denise M. Saint Arnault, Laura M. Struble, Nancy A. Gallagher and Janet L. Larson

Assisted living (AL) residents engage in very low levels of physical activity (PA), placing them at increased risk for mobility disability and frailty. But many residents in AL may not perceive the need to increase their PA. This study explored the experience, meaning, and perceptions of PA in 20 older adults in AL. The factors associated with PA were also examined. Qualitative data were collected using semistructured interviews and analyzed using phenomenological methodology. Six themes were identified: PA was experienced as planned exercise, activities of daily living, and social activities based on a schedule or routine; PA meant independence and confidence in the future; residents perceived themselves as being physically active; social comparisons influenced perception of PA; personal health influenced PA; motivations and preferences influenced PA. The findings highlight the importance of residents’ personal perceptions of PA and effects of the social milieu in the congregate setting on PA.

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Nancy Ambrose Gallagher, Kimberlee A. Gretebeck, Jennifer C. Robinson, Elisa R. Torres, Susan L. Murphy and Kristy K. Martyn

Focus-group and photo-voice methodology were used to identify the salient factors of the neighborhood environment that encourage or discourage walking in older, urban African Americans. Twenty-one male (n = 2) and female (n = 19) African Americans age 60 years and older (M = 70 ± 8.7, range = 61–85) were recruited from a large urban senior center. Photographs taken by the participants were used to facilitate focus-group discussions. The most salient factors that emerged included the presence of other people, neighborhood surroundings, and safety from crime, followed by sidewalk and traffic conditions, animals, public walking tracks and trails, and weather. Future walking interventions for older African Americans should include factors that encourage walking, such as the presence of other friendly or active people, attractive or peaceful surroundings, and a sense of safety from crime.