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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A community based exploration of physical literacy in masters athletes : an older adult perspective McCracken, Garry


Background: Canadians are living longer and spending more years in retirement. This demographic shift has, in-part, prompted significant growth in sport participation by older adults. The purpose of this research was to explore the principles of Physical Literacy (PL) within the Masters Athlete (MA) community in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and to determine if this group of older active adults puts these principles into practice in their lives. Methods: Sport clubs in the Kelowna and surrounding area were sent email invitations to participate, with a survey link embedded. Thirty-five MAs, males and females ranging in age from 55 to over 75 years of age, completed the survey. All were invited to participate in follow-up interviews that were conducted online. Thirty-one accepted the invitation, eight were interviewed. Results: Of the 35 MAs who consented and completed an online survey of sport participation in a pre-COVID-19 scenario, more than half declared themselves to be lifelong athletes, while almost a quarter could be considered late bloomers coming to competitive sport later in life. Survey responses also showed that while most MAs were unaware of the term PL, the MAs embodied its principles in their practice of physical activity (PA) and sport to maintain a healthy lifestyle for life. The interviews of the 8 participants revealed that when presented with the PL definition, MAs felt that it had little relevance to them and they failed to see how it could be adapted to address the needs of older adults (OAs). The importance of social connection in sport was prominent in the interviews. Several commented about how sport had replaced the socialization previously found in the workplace. Conclusions: These data suggest that although MAs are unaware of the construct of PL they have intuitively engaged with its principles and seek to share their active lifestyle with other OAs; however, absent from the definition is social connectedness, an essential element for OA participation in PAs.

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