The art of ageing well : a salutogenic perspective on physical activity for older adults

Abstract: This thesis examines older adults’ participation in physical activity, and is framed within a salutogenic theory regarding ageing well, or as others say, healthy ageing. Ageing well can be studied in numerous ways. Since this thesis is within the field of Sport Sciences, different physical activity initiatives for older adults are in focus. Population ageing is a global trend andrepresents a major societal challenge. Societies that adapt to this changing demographic situation and invest in healthy ageing or in how people can age well may enable people to live longer and healthier lives and reduce the burden of disease and disabilities. Therefore, strategies that offer environments that contribute to keeping people active are something that societies should prioritize. Current knowledge on issues relating to an ageing population are often based on an understanding of what causes illness, rather than what promotes health. Against this backdrop, it is essential to investigate those who are regularly physically active.  The overall aim of the thesis is to contribute knowledge about older adults’ participation in sport and physical activity initiatives. The thesis will further contribute knowledge about who participates in the initiatives and what characterizes the different initiatives they participate in. This will be explored using salutogenic theory in relation to ageing well.  Main findings are that older adult women and men are partly drawn to different physical activities and social relations were the most meaningful health resource. In conclusion, engaging in physical activity increases the odds of maintaining well-being in later life and of ageing well. Thus, offering and increasing physical activity is one way of meeting the challenge of an ageing population in society. From a salutogenic perspective, physical activity carried out to provides a meaningful, comprehensible and manageable way for older adults to engage in the ongoing process of maintaining health.

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