“You feel like people are looking at you and laughing”: older adults' perceptions of aquatic physical activity

Evans, Adam Brian and Sleap, Mike (2012) “You feel like people are looking at you and laughing”: older adults' perceptions of aquatic physical activity. Journal of Aging Studies, 26 (4). pp. 515-526. ISSN 0890-4065

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“You feel like people are looking at you and laughing”: Older adults' perceptions of aquatic physical activity
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Full text URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2012.07.004

Abstract

Older adults' participation in Physical Activity (PA) in the United Kingdom remains low. Moreover, although the subjective and narrative elements of aging are increasingly studied, promotion of healthy behaviours such as aquatic PA still frequently reduces older adults to passive recipients who rely on health professionals for their wellbeing. Using a figurational perspective, the relationship between participants' perceptions of the aging body and participation in aquatic activity was investigated. Interviews were completed with 22 adults aged over 50 years (7 men, 15 women). Participants highlighted a number of perceptual barriers that were contoured by wider social representations of older adults. Perceptions focussed upon the perceived limitations of the aging body. The need for regular participation in PA was recognised. However the potential for angst when wearing a bathing costume in the presence of ‘others’ was expressed, particularly amongst those considering themselves overweight. Participants objectified their bodies and compared them with those of other participants. The difficulties of managing physical (e.g. injury and illness) and environmental risk were described. At the same time, participants experienced the development of new webs of interdependence. These webs were both enabling and constraining. Some participants felt empowered. However, the exclusivity of many aquatic activity sessions re-emphasised the status of older adults as outsiders in the wider figuration of physical activity.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Older adults' participation in Physical Activity (PA) in the United Kingdom remains low. Moreover, although the subjective and narrative elements of aging are increasingly studied, promotion of healthy behaviours such as aquatic PA still frequently reduces older adults to passive recipients who rely on health professionals for their wellbeing. Using a figurational perspective, the relationship between participants' perceptions of the aging body and participation in aquatic activity was investigated. Interviews were completed with 22 adults aged over 50 years (7 men, 15 women). Participants highlighted a number of perceptual barriers that were contoured by wider social representations of older adults. Perceptions focussed upon the perceived limitations of the aging body. The need for regular participation in PA was recognised. However the potential for angst when wearing a bathing costume in the presence of ‘others’ was expressed, particularly amongst those considering themselves overweight. Participants objectified their bodies and compared them with those of other participants. The difficulties of managing physical (e.g. injury and illness) and environmental risk were described. At the same time, participants experienced the development of new webs of interdependence. These webs were both enabling and constraining. Some participants felt empowered. However, the exclusivity of many aquatic activity sessions re-emphasised the status of older adults as outsiders in the wider figuration of physical activity.
Keywords:Older adults, Aquatic Physical Activity, Perceptions, Figurations
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
L Social studies > L510 Health & Welfare
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:6079
Deposited By: Adam Evans
Deposited On:25 Aug 2012 22:13
Last Modified:05 Dec 2013 10:33

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