Understanding Older Adults’ Motivators and Barriers to Participating in Organized Programs Supporting Exercise Behaviors
- 2.5k Downloads
Little is known about older adults’ perceptions of organized programs that support exercise behavior. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 39 older adults residing in King County, Washington, who either declined to join, joined and participated, or joined and then quit a physical activity-oriented program. We sought to explore motivators and barriers to physical activity program participation and to elicit suggestions for marketing strategies to optimize participation. Two programs supporting exercise behavior and targeting older persons were the source of study participants: Enhance®Fitness and Physical Activity for a Lifetime of Success. We analyzed interview data using standard qualitative methods. We examined variations in themes by category of program participant (joiner, decliner, quitter) as well as by program and by race. Interview participants were mostly females in their early 70s. Approximately half were non-White, and about half had graduated from college. The most frequently cited personal factors motivating program participation were enjoying being with others while exercising and desiring a routine that promoted accountability. The most frequent environmental motivators were marketing materials, encouragement from a trusted person, lack of program fees, and the location of the program. The most common barriers to participation were already getting enough exercise, not being motivated or ready, and having poor health. Marketing messages focused on both personal benefits (feeling better, social opportunity, enjoyability) and desirable program features (tailored to individual needs), and marketing mechanisms ranged from traditional written materials to highly personalized approaches. These results suggest that organized programs tend to appeal to those who are more socially inclined and seek accountability. Certain program features also influence participation. Thoughtful marketing that involves a variety of messages and mechanisms is essential to successful program recruitment and continued attendance.
KeywordsAged Exercise Health promotion/organization and administration Patient participation Health behavior Qualitative research
This article was sponsored by the CDC Office of Public Health Research through its Centers of Excellence in Health Marketing and Health Communication program (Grant 5-P01-CD000249-03). Additional funding support came from the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center, one of CDC’s Prevention Research Centers (HPRC cooperative Agreement No. U48-DP-001911).
- Ashworth, N. L., Chad, K. E., Harrison, E. L., Reeder, B. A., & Marshall, S. C. (2005). Home versus center based physical activity programs in older adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004017.pub2.
- Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Cohen-Mansfield, J., Marx, M. S., & Guralnik, J. M. (2003). Motivators and barriers to exercise in an older community-dwelling population. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 11(2), 242–253.Google Scholar
- Cress, M. E., Buchner, D. M., Questad, K. A., Esselman, P. C., deLateur, B. J., & Schwartz, R. S. (1999). Exercise: Effects on physical functional performance in independent older adults. The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 54(5), M242–M248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). U.S. Physical Activity Statistics. http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/PASurveillance/DemoCompareResultV.asp?State=0&Cat=1&Year=2008&CI=on&Go=GO. Accessed July 7, 2013.
- Hooker, S. P., Seavey, W., Weidmer, C. E., Harvey, D. J., Stewart, A. L., Gillis, D. E., et al. (2005). The California active aging community grant program: Translating science into practice to promote physical activity in older adults. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 29(3), 155–165.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hu, F. B., Sigal, R. J., Rich-Edwards, J. W., Colditz, G. A., Solomon, C. G., Willett, W. C., et al. (1999). Walking compared with vigorous physical activity and risk of type 2 diabetes in women: A prospective study. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282(15), 1433–1439.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Prohaska, T., Belansky, E., Belza, B., Buchner, D., Marshall, V., McTigue, K., et al. (2006). Physical activity, public health, and aging: Critical issues and research priorities. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 61(5), S267–S273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wallace, J. I., Buchner, D. M., Grothaus, L., Leveille, S., Tyll, L., LaCroix, A. Z., et al. (1998). Implementation and effectiveness of a community-based health promotion program for older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 53A(4), M301–M306.Google Scholar
- Wilcox, S. (1999). Physical activity preferences of middle-aged and older adults: A community analysis. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 7(4), 386–399.Google Scholar