Physical activity in people age 80 years and older as a means of counteracting disability, balanced in relation to frailty

J Aging Phys Act. 2012 Jul;20(3):317-31. doi: 10.1123/japa.20.3.317. Epub 2011 Dec 20.


The aim of this study was to describe experiences of physical activity, perceived meaning, and the importance of and motives and barriers for participation in physical activity in people 80 years of age and older. A qualitative design with focus-group methodology was used. The sample consisted of 20 community-living people age 80-91 yr. Data analyses revealed 4 themes: physical activity as a part of everything else in life, joie de vivre, fear of disease and dependence, and perceptions of frailty. Our results suggest that physical activity was not seen as a separate activity but rather as a part of activities often rated as more important than the physical activity itself. Thus, when designing physical activity interventions for elderly people, health care providers should consider including time for social interaction and possibilities to be outdoors. Moreover, assessment of physical activity levels among elderly people should include the physical activity in everyday activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Frail Elderly / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Participation
  • Tape Recording