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A social ecological exploration of physical activity influences among rural men and women across life stages

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Social ecological models have been used to study physical activity (PA) influences of rural women across life stages. However, few, if any, studies have used these models in conjunction with qualitative methods to explore rural men’s PA perceptions or to concurrently explore rural men’s and women’s PA perceptions across life stages. This study adopted a social-ecological framework and thematic analysis to explore influences of men’s (n = 14) and women’s (n = 19) PA across midlife (i.e. ages 44–59) and older age (i.e. ages 60+), within a rural Midwestern community in the USA. The results revealed that social (e.g. family) and cultural influences (e.g. division of labour within the family) affected intrapersonal PA influences (e.g. physical self-perceptions, not having time). These influences had distinct and nuanced meanings for men and women across life stages, a finding that advances understandings of men’s and women’s rural PA from a social-ecological perspective. PA promotion efforts in a rural setting should view gender and age as complex sociocultural constructions that differentially impact the interplay of social-ecological influences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-536
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

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