Why older people engage in physical activity: an exploratory study of participants in a community-based walking program Academic Article uri icon


  • While older people experience substantial physical and mental health benefits from regular physical activity, participation rates among older people are low. There is a need to gather more information about why older people do and do not engage in physical activity. This paper aims to examine the reasons why older men and women chose to engage in a community-based physical activity program. Specific issues that were examined included reasons why older people who had been involved in a community-based program on a regular basis: commenced the program; continued with the program; and recommenced the program after they had dropped out. Ten participants (eight females and two males) aged between 62 and 75 years, who had been participating in a community-based physical activity program for a minimum of 6 months, were individually interviewed. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Three major themes emerged, including ‘time to bond: social interaction’ with sub-themes ‘bona fide friendships’ and ‘freedom from being isolated’; ‘I want to be healthy: chronic disease management’; and ‘new lease on life’. Two of the primary reasons why older people both commenced and recommenced the program were the promise of social interaction and to be able to better manage their chronic conditions.

publication date

  • 2014