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Aftab E. Patla and Anne Shumway-Cook

Mobility, the ability to move independently, is critical to maintaining independence and quality of life. Among older adults, mobility disability results when an individual cannot meet the demands of the environment. Current approaches to defining mobility rely on distance and time measures, or decompose mobility into subtasks (e.g., climbing, sit to stand), but provide limited understanding of mobility in the elderly. In this paper, a new conceptual framework identifies the critical environmental factors, or dimensions, that operationally define mobility within a given community, such as ambient conditions (light levels, weather conditions) and terrain characteristics (stairs, curbs). Our premise is that the environment and the individual conjointly determine mobility disability. Mobility in the elderly is defined not by the number of tasks a person can or cannot perform, but by the range of environmental contexts in which tasks can be safely carried out: the more disabled, the more restrictive the dimensions.

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Stephen Silverman and Melinda Solmon

This paper addresses the appropriate unit of analysis in field research. We first discuss the issues related to this topic: (a) unit of measurement versus unit of analysis, (b) treatments and random assignment, (c) independence of observations, (d) moderating and control variables, and (e) correlational versus experimental research. We then present a model for determining the correct unit of analysis. In many instances, researchers should use class means or subgroup means, and this has implications for research design. In the third section, we discuss the related issues of (a) the burden of proof, (b) asking the right questions and getting the right answers, and (c) completing statistical analyses. How data are analyzed can affect the results, and researchers should consider these issues when planning their research.

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Edward Albert

The subculture of bicycle racing provides a situation in which the relationship between formal rules and dominant sport ideologies, and the taken-for-granted informal structures produced by athletes during competition, may be observed. Ethnographic and interview data suggest that such structures as pelotons and pacelines create both the opportunity for and the requirement of cooperative efforts between opponents, standing in stark contrast to more conventional conceptions of sport in which only unambiguous conflict between competitors is seen as legitimate. Here the informal norms of cooperation are central to insider definitions of the social order and are accompanied by strong sanctions for noncompliance. This cooperative informal order is seen as especially problematic for novices, as it diverges from widely held beliefs in the independence of competing units and the importance of overcoming opponents through maximum individual effort. Media coverage of the sport, in disregarding cooperative efforts, both creates and perpetuates erroneous stereotypes, making socialization into the sport more difficult.

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Pamela G. Bowen, Yvonne D. Eaves, David E. Vance and Linda D. Moneyham

African American women are more likely to be classified as overweight or obese than European American women and little is known about this phenomenon. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of overweight and obese African American older women living in the southern regions of the United States. Semistructured, audiotaped interviews were conducted to elicit narratives from nine participants. Interview data were transcribed verbatim and then coded and analyzed using Colaizzi’s phenomenological analysis framework. Three major categories emerged: impact of health conditions, incongruent perceptions, and the desire for independence. The focus of culturally appropriate interventions aimed at increasing physical activity for this group should incorporate activities that will help them remain independent, because weight loss is not a primary motivator.

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Bonnie Field, Tom Cochrane, Rachel Davey and Yohannes Kinfu

The aim of this study was to identify determinants of walking and whether walking maintained mobility among women as they transition from their mid-70s to their late 80s. We used 12 years of follow-up data (baseline 1999) from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (n = 10,322). Fifteen determinants of walking were included in the analysis and three indicators of mobility. Longitudinal data analyses techniques were employed. Thirteen of the 15 determinants were significant predictors of walking. Women in their mid-70s who walked up to 1 hr per week were less likely to experience loss of mobility in very old age, including reduced likelihood of using a mobility aid. Hence, older women who do no walking should be encouraged to walk to maintain their mobility and their independence as they age, particularly women in their 70s and 80s who smoke, are overweight, have arthritis, or who have had a recent fall.

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Ana I. Sousa, Rui Corredeira and Ana L. Pereira

This study reports on a comparison of how two different groups of people with an amputation view their bodies and perceive how others view them. One group has a history of sport participation, while the other has not. The analysis is based on 14 semistructured interviews with people with amputations: 7 were engaged in sport and 7 were not. The following themes emerged: Body, Prosthesis, Independence, Human Person, and Social Barriers. One could conclude that participation in sport influences how people with an amputation perceive their body as they live with their body in a more positive way and they better accept their new body condition and their being-in-the-world. The social barriers that people with an amputation have to face daily were evident, and one of the most significant ideas was the importance of being recognized and treated as a person and not as a person with a disability.

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Dorothy J. Lovett and Carla D. Lowry

Two reasons given for the dramatic decline in the percentage of women coaches since the passage of Title IX have been the effectiveness of the “good old boys” network and the lack or ineffectiveness of the “good old girls” network. With homologous reproduction used as a theoretical basis for these networks, 1,106 public secondary schools were surveyed to determine their administrative structures based on the sex of the principals and the athletic directors. Two types of administrative structures were identified with four models under each type. The numbers of male and female head coaches in the girls' athletics program under each administrative structure were determined and analyzed for independence. Significant differences were found between the different administrative models and the gender of the head coaches. Findings are discussed in terms of the prevailing administrative structures and the representation of females in coaching as a result of the dominant group reproducing itself.

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Peter Klavora and Ronald J. Heslegrave

Individuals age 65 and over represent the most rapidly growing segment of the driving population in North America. Although the driving privilege helps seniors maintain greater levels of independence and self-sufficiency, many deficits in driving-related abilities increase with age and can place some individuals, or other road users, at risk for property destruction or personal injury. Drastic age-related declines in driving-related abilities are not inevitable, however. Aging-driver-specific programs have been shown to be effective in ensuring that older drivers remain safe and competent on the roads. Current research suggests that Visual-Motor Useful Field of View training might be an effective means of assessing and enhancing many of the functional psychomotor tasks required by senior drivers. The potential success of such specific fitness and psychomotor training programs has great implications for helping seniors maintain independent living and an improved quality of life for as long as possible.

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Therese Brovold, Dawn A. Skelton, Hilde Sylliaas, Morten Mowe and Astrid Bergland

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship among health-related quality of life (HRQOL), physical fitness, and physical activity in older patients after recent discharge from hospital. One hundred fifteen independent-living older adults (ages 70–92 years) were included. HRQOL (Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Health Survey), physical activity (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly), and physical fitness (Senior Fitness Test) were measured 2–4 weeks after discharge. Higher levels of physical activity and physical fitness were correlated with higher self-reported HRQOL. Although cause and effect cannot be determined from this study, the results suggest that a particular focus on the value of physical activity and physical fitness while in hospital and when discharged from hospital may be important to encourage patients to actively preserve independence and HRQOL. It may be especially important to target those with lower levels of physical activity, poorer physical fitness, and multiple comorbidities.

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S.E. Barber, A. Forster and K.M. Birch

Background:

Physical activity is important for maintaining independence and quality of life in older people living in care homes. Little is known about patterns of physical activity or sedentary behavior in this population.

Methods:

Thirty-three care home residents (82.6 ± 9.2 years) wore an ActiGraph GTX3 accelerometer for seven days, which provided minutes of sedentary behavior and low, light, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Participants undertook the Mini-Mental State Examination and care staff reported activities of daily living (Barthel index) and functional ambulation classification (FAC) for each participant.

Results:

Participants spent on average 79% of their day sedentary, 14% in low, 6% in light, and 1% in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Activity levels did not significantly differ between days or hours of the day (P > .05).

Conclusion:

Levels of physical activity were very low and time being sedentary was high. This study can inform physical activity and sedentary behavior interventions for care homes’ residents.