Little research has attended to the possibility that competencies and efficacy for physical activity acquired in childhood may last a lifetime. This study examined self-report and recall data on 327 Vancouver women born between 1896 and 1921 with a view to understanding current sources of self-efficacy for adult fitness activity. Current self-efficacy (SE) for late life fitness activity was assessed alongside age, education, perceived well-being, and movement confidence in childhood (MCC) for six challenging physical skills. Perceived well-being was the best predictor of late life SE for fitness exercise, explaining 26% of the variance. However, MCC was also an equally important and independent predictor of late life SE. even when age. education, and perceived well-being were controlled for. This study provides preliminary evidence that personal estimates of ability to exercise in late life are based on self-evaluations of Wellness, current age, and former competencies that have origins in girlhood mastery experiences over six decades earlier.
Elderly Tomboys? Sources of Self-Efficacy for Physical Activity in Late Life
Sandra O’Brien Cousins
Aging and Physical Activity: The Promise of Qualitative Research
Bevan Grant and Sandra O'Brien Cousins
Thinking out Loud: What Older Adults Say about Triggers for Physical Activity
Sandra O'Brien Cousins
This study analyzed older women's (age 57–92, N = 32) descriptions of motivating triggers for physical activity. Among active women, activity was triggered by situations such as declining fitness levels, low bone density, more free time, fears about inadequate health care leading to self-care, expectations for reduced aches and pains, awareness of new community programs, and public reports of the health benefits. Semiactive women had doubts about the appropriateness of being active. Inactive people also experienced triggers but seemed firmly committed to a less active lifestyle by reminding themselves that retirement requires no commitments, exercise is not needed if you are healthy, exercise is not appropriate if you are ill, being very busy is a substitute activity, and serving others is less selfish. The findings suggest that active-living interventions might be more effectively aimed at semi active seniors who seem positively disposed to participating but need help to get started or to stay involved.
Recapturing the Physical Activity Experiences of the Old: A Study of Three Women
Sandra O'Brien Cousins and Patricia A. Vertinsky
Few studies have tried to describe in detail the actual lifetime exercise experiences of very old women. In this paper, in-depth, guided life-course interviews with three women born in or before 1900 are used to shed light upon the social forces affecting the physical activities of young girls before the turn of the century. The late-life exercise patterns of these very old women appear to be rooted in very different ways to their past. However, the information gleaned from the interviews supports the early activation hypothesis that young girls at the turn of the century who were afforded opportunities and social support to develop physical skill in sport-type activities, or were physically challenged in domestic or farm labor, still appreciate and take advantage of the health-promoting aspects of exercise over 80 years later.
Social Influences on Physical Activity in Older Adults: A Review
Makoto Chogahara, Sandra O’Brien Cousins, and Leonard M. Wankel
The interpersonal relationships of older adults have long been recognized as important determinants for their physical activity involvement. To date, researchers in this field have tended to focus on positive social influences, such as social support. Furthermore, in most studies, operational definitions of social support have stressed the source of the support (e.g., family support and friend support) rather than the nature of the support provided by these groups and individuals. In order to clarify the social context of physical activity among older adults, more attention should be paid to exploring both positive and negative social influences on physical activity. The objectives of this paper were to consolidate current findings concerning social influences and physical activity among aging adults, and to identify major positive and negative social influences from the literature that are associated with physical activity and health-promoting behaviors among aging adults. The development of a more comprehensive and representative method of measuring social influences in physical activity settings is advocated.
A Case Study of Physical Activity among Older Adults in Rural Newfoundland, Canada
Chad S.G. Witcher, Nicholas L. Holt, John C. Spence, and Sandra O’Brien Cousins
The purpose of this study was to assess rural older adults’ perceptions of leisure-time physical activity and examine these perceptions from a historical perspective. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 inhabitants (mean age 82 years) of Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to inductive analysis. Member-checking interviews were conducted with 5 participants. Findings indicated that beginning in childhood, participants were socialized into a subculture of work activity. As a result of these historical and social forces, leisure-time physical activity did not form part of the participants’ lives after retirement. Strategies for successful aging involved keeping busy, but this “busyness” did not include leisure-time physical activity. Results demonstrated the importance of developing a broader understanding of how past and present-day contexts can influence participation in leisure-time physical activity.