Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Christine Privott

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Second Advisor

Dana M. Howell

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Third Advisor

Melba G. Custer

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Abstract

Physical inactivity is one of the driving risk factors for developing health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases (World Health Organization, 2003). The prevalence of these diseases increases with the aging process, which renders participation in physical activity crucial among the aging population. There is strong evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of these health disparities and disabilities (Young & Dinan, 2005), however despite these well-documented benefits, aging women still remain sedentary. This study examined the phenomenon of women 55 years of age or older and their lived experiences of participating in physical activity within a university of fitness and wellness center. An interview protocol was derived from the Theory of Planned Behavior (Blue, 1995). Interview data from three participants were transcribed and analyzed through open and axial coding and emergent themes following the Colaizzi Method (1978). The findings discovered three major themes: connecting with peers, diverse barriers to physical activity, and “expected” motivators and physical activity. One minor theme that emerged was consequences to “if I don’t”. For these women, the phenomenon of participating in physical activity is at once familiar and unexpected.

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