Engaging Older Men in Physical Activity: Implications for Health Promotion Practice
According to Health Canada (2016), only about 11% of older men meet recommended guidelines for physical activity, and participation decreases as men age. This places men at considerable risk of poor health, including an array of chronic diseases. A demographic shift toward a greater population of less healthy older men would substantially challenge an already beleaguered health-care system. One strategy to alter this trajectory might be gender-sensitized community-based physical activity. Therefore, a qualitative study was conducted to enhance understanding of community-dwelling older men’s day-to-day experiences with physical activity. Four men over age 65 participated in a semistructured interview, three walk-along interviews, and a photovoice project. An interpretive descriptive approach to data analysis was used to identify three key themes related to men’s experiences with physical activity: (a) “The things I’ve always done,” (b) “Out and About,” and (c) “You do need the group atmosphere at times.” This research extends the knowledge base around intersections among older men, physical activity, and masculinities. The findings provide a glimpse of the diversity of older men and the need for physical activity programs that are unique to individual preferences and capacities. The findings are not generalized to all men but the learnings from this research may be of value to those who design programs for older men in similar contexts. Future studies might address implementation with a larger sample of older men who reside in a broad range of geographic locations and of different ethnicities.