Title: “Understanding the determinants of physical activity and exercise in older adults: A literature review”
Supervisor: Dr. Peter Crocker (Kinesiology)
Second Reader: Dr. Laura Hurd Clarke (Kinesiology)
Abstract: The importance of physical activity in the maintenance of physical, emotional and cognitive health is well established. In Canada, less than 14% of older adults meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Physical activity interventions are commonly prescribed to treat several chronic conditions. However, approximately half of older adults drop out of intervention studies within the first three to six months. Knowledge of the physiological, psychological and sociological determinants of physical activity and exercise can promote adherence. The purpose of this paper was to provide an insight into how physical activity and exercise can benefit the natural aging process; determine which psychological intervention techniques can promote adherence to physical activity; and to establish how sociological structures influence older adult’s activity levels.
Advanced aging can moderate executive functioning. Efficient executive functioning facilitates participation in self-regulatory strategies. A baseline assessment of executive functioning before interventions could determine appropriate behavioral change techniques. Since older people have inferior executive functioning, generalized interventions are likely to be ineffective. Individualized programs that simplify and appropriately modify behavioral change techniques may be more effective when working with older adults.
To promote activity levels among older adults, policymakers and researcher must advance their understanding of how the social and built environment impact older adults self-efficacy. Qualitative research could provide insights into older adult’s perceptions and experiences of the aging process. These insights could assist in the development and implementation of socially inclusive practices that augment older adult’s beliefs in their abilities to partake in physical activity and exercise.