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‘You're never too old’: beliefs about physical activity and playing sport in later life

  • BEVAN C. GRANT (a1)

Abstract

It was evident from interviews with 15 men and women over 70 years of age that the experiences derived from being physically active and playing sport in later life are expansive, dynamic and completely imbued with multiple interpretations. Furthermore, their beliefs support the notion that the physically active body should be considered more than a physical object, as it represents a conscious, feeling, thinking and reflective self. The findings signify much is to be gained by regularly partaking in deliberate physical activity during later life although this is not always as easy as it sounds. At a personal level, changes in functional capacity and dealing with the sometimes ailing body can serve as a deterrent. From a broader perspective, the stigma associated with being older also poses a significant physical, sociological and psychological challenge, particularly during the initial phases. In conclusion, the study discusses why change must occur at a personal and societal level before a greater proportion of the older population become more physically active.

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Department of Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Waikato, Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. e-mail: bcg@waikato.ac.nz

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