Why few older adults participate in complex motor skills: a qualitative study of older adults’ perceptions of difficult and challenge

Kraft, Katarina P., Steel, Kylie A., Macmillan, Freya, Olson, Rebecca and Merom, Dafna (2015) Why few older adults participate in complex motor skills: a qualitative study of older adults’ perceptions of difficult and challenge. BMC Public Health, 15 1: 1186-1197. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2501-z

Author Kraft, Katarina P.
Steel, Kylie A.
Macmillan, Freya
Olson, Rebecca
Merom, Dafna
Title Why few older adults participate in complex motor skills: a qualitative study of older adults’ perceptions of difficult and challenge
Journal name BMC Public Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication date 2015-11-26
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/s12889-015-2501-z
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 15
Issue 1
Start page 1186
End page 1197
Total pages 12
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Subject 2739 Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
Abstract Background: Maintaining neuromotor fitness across the life course is imperative. It can reduce falls in older individuals and improve/maintain physical and cognitive functioning. Complex motor skills (CMS) are involved in many physical activities (e.g., ball games, dance), which can improve neuromotor fitness. However, few older adults participate in CMS. This study aimed to understand how older adults perceive the degree of difficulty and challenge, using Gentile's taxonomy of motor skills as a framework. Methods: Six focus groups (FGs) were conducted with older adults (aged 61-92 years; N = 36) using a semi-structured question guide, to explore older adults' perceptions of difficulty and challenges associated with physical activity types. FGs were conducted in three villages and community groups in Sydney, Australia. Verbatim transcripts were coded inductively following a grounded theory approach to analysis to discover categories and concepts based on participants' views. Results: Older adults perceived physical effort and pace as influencing difficulty where as challenging activities were not found to hinder older adults' willingness to participate. Other challenges in performing activities were attributed to: skill level, environment conditions (e.g., pool versus ocean swimming) and variations influencing complexity. Social and interpersonal issues, such as embarrassment, rapport with instructors, prior experience/ familiarity, in addition to physical effort, were other central features of older adults' perceptions of physical activities. Themes that appeared to increase the likelihood of participation in CMS were: age appropriate modification; enjoyment; social aspects; past experience; and having experienced instructors. Conclusions: This study offers recommendations for increasing participation in CMS. Modifying activities to suit ability and age and increasing exposure during the life span may help maintain participation into old age. Gentile's taxonomy provides an appropriate framework for classifying activities as simple or complex, which were recognised by participants on a descriptive level. Existing and new sports, which have been modified for old age, should be made available to older adults. Within the motor learning literature, the focus on older adults is limited. If activity complexity translates to improved cognitive abilities as well as improved individual neuromotor performance, the challenge of modifying activities to suit older adults' preferences needs to be addressed.
Keyword Older adults
Physical activity
Focus Groups
Gentile's taxonomy
Complex motor skills
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Created: Tue, 08 Dec 2015, 04:06:55 EST by Rebecca Olson on behalf of School of Social Science