‘We may be falling apart but we still keep going’: retired servicemen’s experiences of their ageing bodies

Williams, Rachel Katherine and Allen-Collinson, Jacquelyn and Evans, Adam B. and Briggs, Jacqueline (2018) ‘We may be falling apart but we still keep going’: retired servicemen’s experiences of their ageing bodies. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10 (2). pp. 190-205. ISSN 2159-676X

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Abstract

Currently, there is scant research that investigates in-depth retired servicemen’s perceptions and experiences of ageing and being physically active, particularly in relation to retirement experiences. In this article, we employ a novel theoretical combination of figurational sociology and symbolic interactionism to explore a topical life history of 20 retired servicemen’s experiences in relation to physical activity (PA), the ageing body and constructions of identity in later life. Participants were aged 60+ and members of the Royal British Legion in a city in the English Midlands. Three semi-structured focus-group interviews and follow-up conversations were completed, together with informal observations. Key findings revealed that although participants recognised the need for regular PA, their perceptions routinely centred upon the ‘felt’ limitations of the ageing body, often in stark contrast to their former ‘disciplined’, active, military bodies. Corporeal challenges and limitations discouraged some from taking part in PA altogether. Despite their perceived bodily limitations, however, many ex-service personnel still endeavoured to stay physically active. Findings highlight the salience of the temporal aspects of older adults’ lived experiences of exercise and PA, for past experiences of PA and exercise were identified as strongly shaping current-day motivations, attitudes and behaviours.

Keywords:Ageing, Physical activity, Figurational theory, Symbolic interactionism, Embodiment and the military
Subjects:L Social studies > L400 Social Policy
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:30143
Deposited On:21 Mar 2018 17:24

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