Older People’s Adherence to Community-Based Group Exercise Programmes: A Multiple-Case Study
Authors: Killingback, C.
Physical inactivity is a global phenomenon, with estimates of one in four adults not being active enough to achieve health benefits, thus heightening the risk of developing non-communicable diseases. In order to realise the health and wellbeing gains associated with physical activity the behaviour must be sustained. Community-based group exercise programmes (CBGEP) utilising social support have been shown to be one means of not only increasing activity levels for older people, but sustaining physical activity.
A mixed-methods systematic review revealed a gap in the literature around older people’s long-term adherence to real-life CBGEP within a UK context. This study therefore sought to address this gap by understanding older people’s ongoing adherence to CBGEP with a view to gaining further insight about which factors contribute to enabling people to sustain their physical activity levels.
A multiple case study research design was employed to understand older people’s (≥ 60 years, n=27) adherence (≥ 69%, for ≥ 1 year) to three current CBGEP in the South- West of England. Qualitative data (participant observation, focus groups, documents, and interviews) were collected and analysed using inductive thematic analysis followed by the analytic technique of explanation building. In order to gain deeper insights into adherence, the humanisation framework was utilised in an a priori manner to further understand adherence from a humanising perspective. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and used to set the context of the study.
This study found that older people’s adherence to CBGEP was mediated through six factors: factors relating to the individual, the instructor, programme design, social features, participant perceived benefits, and a humanised exercise environment. These all served to explain older people’s adherence to CBGEP.
The humanising qualities of these CBGEP must be considered if we wish to support older people in sustaining a physically active lifestyle as they age. These findings are of interest to practitioners and policy makers in how CBGEP serve to aid older people in maintaining a physically active lifestyle with a view to preventing non-communicable diseases and in maintaining social connectivity.