Older adults' motivating factors and barriers to exercise to prevent falls

Scand J Occup Ther. 2011 Jun;18(2):153-60. doi: 10.3109/11038128.2010.487113. Epub 2010 Jun 14.


The aim of this study was to describe motivating factors and barriers for older adults to adhere to group exercise in the local community aiming to prevent falls, and thereby gain knowledge about how health professionals can stimulate adherence. The motivation equation was used as a theoretical framework. Data were collected from individual semi-structured interviews (n = 10). The interviews were taped, transcribed, and thereafter analysed by using a descriptive content analysis consisting of four steps. The results showed that motivating factors to adhere to recommended exercise were perceived prospects of staying independent, maintaining current health status, and improving physical balance and the ability to walk. Barriers were reduced health status, lack of motivation, unpleasant experience during previous exercise group sessions, and environmental factors. All participants wanted information from health professionals on the benefit of exercise. Many considered individual variations in functional skills within each group as a disadvantage. The knowledge gained from this study suggests a greater involvement from all health professionals in motivating older adults to attend exercise groups. The results also suggest that physical therapists should be more aware of the importance of comparative levels of physical function when including participants in exercise groups.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Occupational Therapy / methods
  • Patient Compliance / psychology