F-12 Thematic Poster - Built Environment & Active Commuting: JUNE 3, 2011 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM: ROOM: 403
INTRODUCTION: Regular physical activity can bring dramatic health benefits to people of all ages and ability levels, and this benefit extends throughout the entire course of life. A positive relationship between physical activity and factors such as functional capacity, motor ability, psychological health, cognitive functioning and well-being has been established. Despite these findings, the overwhelming majority of the sixty-five-plus age group continues to lead relatively sedentary lifestyles.
PURPOSE: to explore the perceptions of older adults regarding their lifestyle choices around the retirement communities in which they live.
METHODS: qualitative research design was used to evaluate the subjective reactions and responses of older adults living in three retirement communities in the Urbana-Champaign area. Twelve participants from each facility were interviewed for about 60-90 minutes and answered ten research questions related to physical activity choices available in their facility.
RESULTS: By including older adults living in three quite different locations which differ substantially with respect to their attitudes towards health and whether they perceive their lifestyles as a barrier to, or facilitator of, their health and well-being. The major themes encountered in this topic were: Attitudes towards Physical Activity, Social Support, Resources and Opportunities. Each of the three retirement communities offered examples of individuals who appeared to be optimistic and content with respect to their decisions to be active and maintain a daily physical activity routine.
CONCLUSION: The interviews with residents of the three retirement communities showed that there were three major components that appear to be important predictors of active aging. It is important to carefully study the preferences and opinions of older persons prior to embarking on any strategy to redesign the environment. By increasing our understanding of how and why preferences and values interact with lifestyle variables, we will have a better comprehension of active aging changes.