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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Older adults construe physical activity as a by-product of other activities says new review

18 January 2017

Researchers from the Manchester Centre for Health Psychology in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester have completed a systematic review on physical activity amongst older adults.

The article, titled ‘How acceptable do older adults find the concept of being physically active? A systematic review and meta-synthesis’, by Laura McGowan, Angela Devereux-Fitzgerald, Rachael Powell and David French was published in the International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Despite the significant health benefits of regular physical activity for older adults, only a minority achieve recommended levels. The review sought to understand reasons for low levels of physical activity amongst this population by identifying and synthesizing qualitative studies on the topic.

The research suggests that older adults construe physical activity as a by-product of other activities, rather than as a purposeful activity within itself, and experience conflict between maintaining their autonomy and accepting the physical and social vulnerabilities associated with ageing. It proposes that interventions that target the reduction of sedentary behaviour may be more effective than those promoting moderate or vigorous physical activity.

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