Active and Healthy Ageing through Sport

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Jenkin, Claire (2017) Active and Healthy Ageing through Sport. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Global populations are ageing, and people need to be physically active for good health. Research about physical activity for older adults has focused on general physical activity rather than community sport. This research investigated the benefits of, and barriers to, community sport participation for older adults and for sporting organisations trying to engage older adults. Reasons for older adult drop out and re-engagement in sport, and potential modifications to attract and/or retain older adults were also investigated. This research utilised the Socio-Ecological model, Capacity Building strategies, Leisure Constraints and Organisational Change theories. An exploratory sequential mixed method approach was utilised, comprising of two studies. Study 1 involved eight focus groups (n=49) with representatives from two Australian National Sporting Organisations (NSOs), older adult sport club members and non-members. Study 2 was an online survey to Australian NSOs and State Sporting Organisations (n=171). The prominent benefit for older adults participating in sport were health and the most discussed barrier to participation was lack of appropriate playing opportunities. The main organisational benefits were to increase participation numbers and volunteering capacity, whilst the main organisational barrier was a focus on youth. The main reason for drop out was a lack of age appropriate opportunities, whilst older adults can re-engage with sport when their families played. Modifications to attract and/or retain older adults included changing the way sport was advertised and partnering with external organisations. There is a clear nexus between the main results and sport policy, with a lack of priority for older adults and therefore low sport participation. A re-orientation of sport policy is required to allow sporting organisations to focus strategically on older adults. With an ageing population and the pressure for sport to increase their participation numbers, older adults are an ideal market. There is also an opportunity to further highlight the social, mental and physical health opportunities that sport offers, especially for older adults.

Additional Information

This thesis includes 1 published article for which access is restricted due to copyright (Chapter 5). Details of access to this paper has been inserted in the thesis, replacing the article itself.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords thesis by publication; older adults; sport participation; physical activity; sport policy; community sport; sporting organisations; social health; mental health; physical health; socio-ecological model
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