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Nina Waaler Loland

The aims of this study were to examine the level of exercise among elderly people with regard to the current Norwegian recommendations, demographic correlates of exercise, and the relationship between exercise and subjective health among elderly men and women. A representative sample of 3,770 Norwegian men and women between 65 and 97 years of age (mean 75 years) completed a questionnaire. The response rate was 83.4%. Results showed that 6% of the participants exercise at the level recommended. The oldest old (>80 years), those who have an illness and use medication, and individuals with lower levels of education and income are the least active segments of the sample. After adjusting for age, marital status, income, and education, results showed that exercise at moderate intensity 3–4 days per week is a significant predictor for positive subjective health.

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Nina Waaler Loland

Inspired by Shusterman’s (1997) theory of somaesthetics, this study explores gender differences between aerobicizing individuals. Based upon semistructured interviews and participant observation, the study examines how aerobicizing men and women experience and use their bodies. Findings revealed that men as well as women used aerobics as a means to attain a belter bodily appearance, and both men and women expressed positive and negative experiences of their bodies in the aerobic context. Few of the men but many of the women used aerobics to attain a stronger, healthier, more powerful body. Several of the women felt empowered and in a position to challenge traditional femininity ideals in terms of bodily appearance and use. Most of the men seemed insecure and felt that they were under critical scrutiny during training. It is argued that Shusterman’s theory of somaesthetics can complement more traditional sociological theories in the study of physical activities like aerobics.

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Nina Waaler Loland

Most recent studies on the relationship between bodily appearance and physical activity have focused on young women. Less is known about this relationship among women and men at different ages. In Norway, 1,555 women and men, 18–67 yr, completed 2 subscales of the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire. Participants were classified into 3 activity-level groups—inactive, low-active, and moderate/high-active—and 3 age groups: 18–29, 30–44, and 45–67. Satisfaction with appearance increased with age among moderate/high-active participants but decreased among inactive participants. Active women and men aged 30–44 and 45–67 were significantly more satisfied with their appearance than their inactive counterparts. Inactive men aged 18–29 were significantly more satisfied than their low-active counterparts. Men were significantly more satisfied with their appearance than were women, independent of physical activity and age. Results are discussed in relation to various theories of aging, with focus on the relationship between attitudes toward one’s body and sociocultural body ideals.