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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding older mens' experiences with physical activity : a qualitative analysis Windt, Sheralyn


Mobility disability increases the need for assistance with daily tasks, lowers quality of life, and elevates mortality risk in older adults. Prevention of mobility disability is vital for this expanding population. Physical activity (PA) prevents mobility disability and chronic disease, improves cognitive function and mental health, and extends life. Adults ≥ 65 years old need 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) intensity aerobic PA weekly for health benefits, with balance training and muscle/bone strengthening activities twice weekly. Yet only 13% of Canadian older adults meet the MVPA guidelines. Though community-based interventions increase older adults’ PA, older men are less likely than women to participate in gender-inclusive programs. More research is needed to understand their lower rates of participation. This thesis aimed to describe older mens’ experiences with PA (barriers and facilitators) and provide insight about the preferred features of PA programs for older men. I reviewed interview transcripts of fourteen older men from a PA intervention study called, Men on the Move, and conducted an additional five interviews with a sample of community-dwelling older men (who did not participate in the intervention but who had similar characteristics). I then described and discussed similarities and differences between these men-only interviews and the literature on older adults (men and women) using content analysis. Socio-ecological perspective and hegemonic masculinity frameworks guided the research. Barriers to PA included lack of motivation, health, time, interests, finances, knowledge, fear of injury, social influences, lack of convenience, weather, caregiving, built and natural environments, low quality fitness instructors, and program structure. Facilitators to PA included chores, improved health, interests, time, a motivation to engage in PA, social influences, active transportation, built and natural environment, weather, program structure, and skilled and knowledgeable fitness instructors. Older men described their preferred features of a PA program as a small group atmosphere, individualized attention and programming, equal gender distribution, sports programming, gym and fitness classes, experienced fitness instructors who make classes fun, and fitness instructors who could take criticism. These findings, specific to older men, can be used to inform PA intervention design and program implementation.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International