What are shared physical activity behaviours and life course characteristics among older women participating in a physical activity social movement?

Ballantine, Lisa (2023) What are shared physical activity behaviours and life course characteristics among older women participating in a physical activity social movement? MRes thesis, University of Lincoln.

What are shared physical activity behaviours and life course characteristics among older women participating in a physical activity social movement?
Masters by Research thesis
Ballantine, Lisa - Sport & Exercise Science - June 2023.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (MRes)
Item Status:Live Archive


Introduction: Despite the multiple health gains associated with a physically active lifestyle, there are high levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour among older adults in the UK. As women age, physical activity levels have been shown to decrease. Interestingly, Physical Activity (PA) Social Movements (SM) (PASMs) have begun to emerge in community settings.

Objective: The study aimed to establish and explore the PA behaviours and life course characteristics of older women participating in parkrun, a physical activity social movement. The study will outline distinct older adult female groupings (homogenous) within a PASM based on PA behaviours and life events and experience throughout the life course, to establish ‘What were the life course characteristics among older women participating in a PA social movement?’

Methods: An online survey was used to collect participant responses to questions requesting socio-demographic information, individual health and life course events, parkrun participation and general physical activity behaviours. A market segmentation technique (cluster analysis: k samples) was used to reveal homogenous groups within the population, surveyed with the reported physical activity behaviour data (total weekly minutes of PA, minutes of moderate weekly PA, minutes of vigorous weekly PA, minutes per week walking, minutes per week sitting), and number and type of life events that have been experienced.

Results: Participants were recruited and n=399 were analysed following the cleaning of data. The following four clusters were found: Cluster 1; Inactive Mature Professionals (n=124;) Cluster 2; Modestly Lively Eventfuls (n=134); Cluster 3; Energetic Ramblers (n=17) and Cluster 4; Eventless Educationalists (n=124). All four clusters were different on all demographic variables measured. Cluster 3 had the lowest self-reported physical activity and only 6% of this subgroup met current recommended PA guidelines, with Cluster 1 (41%), Cluster 2 (44%) and Cluster 4 (45%) attaining higher percentages. A One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) revealed that the groups had significant differences between minutes walked, vigorous activity, moderate activity and total minutes of activity (all p = <.001).

Discussion: Insights from this study reveal the physical activity behaviours among older women participating in PASMs. The study reveals the physical activity profile of the participants and revealed four clusters not meeting physical activity guidelines.
Clusters outlined the demographics and life course characteristics. The clusters were identified through physical activity and experienced life events. Specifically, two of the clusters were distinct, representing younger members of the respondents (cluster 3, Energetic Ramblers) and the older of the respondents (cluster 1, Inactive Mature Professionals). A prominent variance in physical activity revealed that the older cohort was more physically active, yet was likely to experience living alone and divorce, suggesting the need for and possession of social support. By contrast, Energetic Ramblers reported the least physical activity (1%) yet experienced three or four life events and were very likely to live with a spouse. (100%). These findings were in contrast with evidence suggesting that physical activity reduces as older women age and may suggest social movements as a lever to commencing and maintaining physical activity into older age. The two clusters Inactive Mature Professionals and Energetic Ramblers reveal very different marked characteristics, suggesting women over 50 years participating in a social movement may not belong as a homogeneous group.

Conclusion: The results in this study revealed different physical activity behaviours and demographic information among older women participating through an online survey. The findings suggest a proportion of older women continue not to meet PA guidelines despite interventions that may provide anchors to engage with an activity. This significant finding may well evidence Physical Activity Social Movements as a viable means for older women to sustain physical activity. The need to develop this study further by using qualitative research methods and triangulation that would embrace the complexity of life course characteristics and their correlation with physical activity. Using life reviews and life stories would verify and could be combined with quantitative results.

Keywords:physical activity, life course characteristics
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND SCIENCE > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:55717
Deposited On:10 Aug 2023 14:47

Repository Staff Only: item control page