The meaning of group physical activity experiences to older women
Bidonde, Maria Julia
The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning of physical activity experiences to older women. A qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological design was used. A purposeful sample of 9 women, age 67 to 83 years old, enrolled in a group physical activity program participated in the study. Data was collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews, artifact documentation, and descriptive and reflective fieldnotes. The transcripts and significance of the artifacts were analyzed using thematic line-by-line analysis. Three themes emerged from the thematic analysis, trading roles, a happier me, and pride and delight. Trading roles refers to the women’s perceptions of a new era of their lives given the transition experienced in their life roles. Many of the things they considered stable in their lives changed. Friends dropped away, family moved, they no longer fulfilled the role of wife, and their active grandmothering period was ending. The theme, a happier me, speaks of the impact their involvement in a physical activity program had on their social lives. Living as widowed or single women, they recognized that they could become isolated within their own homes. Engaging in a physical activity program provided a context where they could expand their social network. The interaction with others in a physical activity program brought a sense of happiness and well-being to their days.The theme, pride and delight, captures the deep understanding of their own sense of well-being and took pride in planning and developing the physical activity program. The assumption that more knowledgeable others must plan, implement, and evaluate programs to meet the needs of older adults was challenged by these participants. The meanings of the experiences were interpreted with the support of Weiss’ (1973) theoretical framework on loneliness. The results of the study highlighted the importance of the contacts made in the physical activity program to the social network of the women, including provisions of attachment, nurturance, and social integration. Physical activity programs for older adults have the potential to expand the social network of older adults and with further research may prove to be an effective intervention for social isolation and ultimately loneliness.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentCollege of Kinesiology
ProgramCollege of Kinesiology
CommitteeMontbriand, Muriel; Kowalski, Kent; Goodwin, Donna; Faulkner, Robert A.; Drinkwater, Donald T.
Copyright DateNovember 2004
group physical activity