Older adults’ lifelong embodied experiences of leisure time aquatic physical activity in the United Kingdom

Evans, Adam B. and Sleap, Mike (2015) Older adults’ lifelong embodied experiences of leisure time aquatic physical activity in the United Kingdom. Leisure Studies, 34 (3). pp. 335-353. ISSN 0261-4367

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Older adults’ lifelong embodied experiences of leisure time aquatic physical activity in the United Kingdom

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Abstract

Aquatic physical activity has considerable benefits for older adults. However, participation rates remain low in the United Kingdom (UK). Recognition of the importance of embodied and narrative elements of ageing has increased in recent times. Old age is considered a life stage interdependent with other, earlier life stages, rather than as a distinct period. This study uses a figurational perspective to investigate older adults’ changing perceptions and embodied experiences of aquatic activity throughout their life courses. Selective memories of perceptions were contextualised by completion of a literature review relating to the development of recreational aquatic activity in the UK. Participants were cognizant of changes in provision and envisaged purpose of aquatic activity during their lifetimes. Previous embodied experiences of aquatic activity contoured present perceptions and helped participants rationalise their experiences in the present context. Descriptions of positive early experiences emphasised the social and spatial context of aquatic activity. Also, negative experiences were recounted in which the olfactory and haptic elements of embodiment were described. Participants were able to recount detailed experiences of poor pool hygiene and threatening experiences of learning to swim during early experiences. The importance of support from family members in the pool environment was also outlined. The significance of lifelong experiences is discussed in relation to figurational principles, including the interweaving of long-term socialisation and short-term, magnified moments and their effects on habitus development. The implications for physical activity provision are discussed in relation to the development of older adults’ perceptions.

Keywords:Ageing, Recreation, History, Aquatic Activity, Embodied experiences, Figurations, JCNotOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:14335
Deposited On:15 Jun 2014 20:34

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