A life fulfilled: positively influencing physical activity in older adults – a systematic review and meta-ethnography

Review written by Dr Mariana Wingood info

Key Points

  1. Older adults prioritize the following benefits of PA: importance of purpose, the feeling of being needed, having habitual routine and daily structure, and sense of responsibility.
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Since 2,600 B.C., physical activity (PA) has been thought to be an important component of health (1). Yet only 10% of older adults are meeting the recommended 150 minutes of PA per week (2). Such a low percentage of older adults meeting PA recommendation is concerning particularly when examining its strong association with all-cause mortality, non-communicable diseases, depression, falling, and disability (2,3). In fact, eliminating this high level of inactivity would abolish 6-10% of the major non-communicable diseases, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, cerebrovascular accident, metabolic syndrome, breast and colon cancer (1). To eliminate this inactivity, healthcare providers need knowledge and insight into an older adult’s purpose and reason for doing PA (5). Therefore, the purpose of this review was to generate theoretical insights on PA adherence using a comprehensive meta-ethnographic synthesis of qualitative studies on PA among older adults.

Only 10% of older adults are meeting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
Clinicians should emphasize how physical activity can help contribute to a purposeful and fulfilling life, particularly if the individual has a feeling of being needed and connected to others.


The following databases were used to search for qualitative papers examining PA among older adults: Ovid Medline, Ovid Embase, Ovid PscyhINFO, CINAHL, and Web of Science. All papers that met inclusion and exclusion criteria underwent a critical review process and

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