Towards co-designing active ageing strategies: A qualitative study to develop a meaningful physical activity typology for later life.
Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy 2018 ; 21: 919-926.
DOI : 10.1111/hex.12686
PubMed ID : 29624803
PMCID : 0
Physical activity levels decline in later life despite the known benefits for physical, cognitive and mental health. Older people find it difficult to meet activity targets; therefore, more realistic and meaningful strategies are needed. We aimed to develop a typology of older people's motivations and lifelong habits of being active as a starting point to co-designing active ageing strategies in a workshop.
We conducted semi-structured interviews with 27 participants aged 65-80 in Norfolk, UK, and participant observation with 17 of them. At a workshop with 13 study participants and 6 government and civil society representatives, we invited reflections on preliminary findings.
Three types were developed. "Exercisers" had engaged in sport and exercise throughout their life but experienced physical ill health and limitations as barriers. "Out-and-about-ers" pursued social engagement and a variety of interests but experienced biographical disruption through retirement and loss of companions that limited social activities in later life. A final type characterized people who preferred "sedentary/solitary" activities. A workshop elicited suggestions for new strategies relating to these types that addressed people's specific motivations. An example was to combine social engagement and physical activity in "dog-parent"-walking schemes to link people through shared responsibility for a dog.
We suggest that these potential strategies map more closely onto the everyday life-worlds in which public health might seek to intervene than common physical activity interventions. Most notably, this means a more differentiated understanding of barriers, and acknowledging that intellectual, social or solitary pursuits can include incidental physical activity.