Physical activity perceptions and influences among older adults in rural Nova Scotia

Chad S. G. Witcher, Nicholas L. Holt, Wendy Young, Chris Blanchard, Donna Murnaghan, John C. Spence

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This study identified factors that influenced physical activity (PA) participation among older adults from rural settings in Nova Scotia Canada and explored how the rural context may influence PA participation and promotion. Data were collected via individual semistructured interviews with 20 older adults (Mage = 77.5 years) from rural areas of Cape Breton and subjected to thematic analysis procedures (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Four themes representing factors that influence the prioritization of PA were identified: (1) historical context of activity, work, and productivity; (2) already busy with day-to-day activities; (3) being/staying on the go; and (4) cautionary approach. These findings suggest that PA promotion should be contextually salient, and highlight the need for a shared understanding between rural older adults and PA promoters regarding what constitutes being “physically active”. Effective promotion of PA among rural older adults may require a shift away from contemporary methods of PA promotion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-129
Number of pages15
JournalCanadian Journal on Aging/La Revue canadienne du vieillissment/Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques
Issue number01
Early online date18 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • physical activity
  • rural
  • Cape Breton
  • qualitative
  • busy ethic


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