“We never thought exercise was doing us any good. It was just a natural part of living”: Sociocultural influences of physical activity in older adults

Kelly Semper, Caitlin Notley, Charlotte Salter, James Hernon, John Saxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The numerous positive effects gained through engaging in physical activity (PA) in one’s later years are becoming increasingly well documented; however, despite this, reports conclude that fewer than three percent of adults over the age of 65 years are achieving the recommended levels. This study attempts to shed light upon the possible sociocultural influences which may have an impact on PA behaviour within our ageing population. An in-depth qualitative study purposefully recruited participants involved in a PA intervention. Semi-structured interviews with twenty-four adults over 60 years were undertaken using an approach informed by grounded theory to elicit past and current PA levels and changing perceptions of active living over their lifetime. Early findings suggest that our ageing participants were unwilling to “exercise for exercise sake” and disassociated themselves from the “unnatural” gym environments often associated with PA in modern times. Their memories of “unforced” childhood play resonated to adult life with the belief their “busy” daily activities were adequate and often surpassed current recommendations. Findings provide a unique insight and enhanced understanding into the more theoretical underpinnings of PA behaviour from a sociocultural perspective. Such understanding may enable policy makers in this field to design and implement increasingly relevant and therefore successful PA programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Society
Issue number1
Early online date12 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Active Ageing
  • Sociocultural Influences
  • Grounded Theory

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