A qualitative exploration of social motivational influences in determining the physical activity of 30–60 year old adults

Keegan, Richard, Girling, Mica, Henderson, Hannah and Middleton, Geoff (2013) A qualitative exploration of social motivational influences in determining the physical activity of 30–60 year old adults. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 16 (S1). e51-e52. ISSN 1440-2440

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2013.10.122

MedSci_RK_2013.pdf - Abstract

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Introduction: Adults over 60–65 years old are a group considered vulnerable to the risks of sedentary lifestyle causing decreased quality of life and poor health. Australian government figures estimate the number of over 65s will reach 8.1 million by 2056, and 11.2 million by 2101. One key opportunity to prevent sedentary lifestyles in older adults is to understand and promote motivation towards physical activity in middle-aged adults. This study qualitatively examined the motivationally relevant behaviours (‘motivational atmosphere’) of key social agents towards physical
activity and sedentary lifestyles in adults between 30 and 60 years of age.
Methodology: Twenty participants (32–60 years old) of varying activity levels were recruited from local workplaces and a GP referral scheme. Participants took part in semi-structured interviews to examine which social agents affected their motivation towards PA and how/why. A critical rationalist philosophy was deployed in the
gathering and analysis of data.
Results: Using inductive content analysis, 307 raw themes were coded into 38 categories and five higher dimensions, labelled: (1) providing information and impetus; (2) supporting progress and competence; (3) affiliation and belongingness; (4) logistical considerations; and (5) emotional support. Spouses, close family, work colleagues, GPs and the media were perceived to be highly influential social agents, with many others listed (e.g., personal trainers, local government). Whilst spouses, family and work colleagues influenced motivation through ‘leading-by-example’, ‘reminding/persuading’ and ‘support/encouragement’, GPs and the media were more likely to exert an influence by offering advice, guidance and recommendations, or in some cases ‘sounding-the-alarm-bell’. The consistency of messages from these different agents (media, health professionals, friends/family) was also noted as a key determinant of attitudes and actions. Whilst health was often central to participants’ responses, social interactions and friendships were also key reasons people gave for becoming or staying active (and for being sedentary). Further, there was preliminary evidence that the sources and types of influence changed as a function of current activity level.
Conclusion: The results facilitate future interventions by suggesting specific behavioural recommendations in relation to known social agents, as well as guiding theoretical development/ refinement. The findings suggest that interventions should encompass psychological and social as-well-as health considerations, and that health professionals must understand the ‘motivational atmosphere’ of each client. Finally, the findings suggest that future research and modelling should adopt methodologies that better address the complexity inherent in the social determination of motivation.

Keywords:Exercise referral, exercise adherence, social agents
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B990 Subjects Allied to Medicine not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:13290
Deposited On:06 Feb 2014 12:03

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