Social support and social barriers for participating in group physical activity among older women living alone
Taylor & Francis
Older adults who live alone are more likely to experience social isolation. Physical activity (PA) provides an opportunity and purpose for participating socially, but there may be social barriers for this population. We examined experiences with social support, social connections, and social barriers related to participating in group PA among older adult women who live alone. Older adult women (n = 16; Mage = 66.9 years, the majority of whom were White) who live alone were interviewed, and data were thematically analysed. Perspectives on living alone varied, with some valuing the freedom of not accommodating another person, while others felt it hampered motivation. Group PA contexts could provide a community who would notice if something was wrong, motivation to leave the house, and a source of comparison for inspiration and benchmarking progress, but some experienced a lack of support and women varied in their perspectives on what supports met their needs. Barriers included challenges with engaging with unfamiliar social groups alone. Many discussed the perspective that they took responsibility for motivating their own PA. Living alone has varied advantages and challenges, and PA may fill support needs in this population. Programs should consider barriers such as the awkwardness of entering social situations alone, and structure classes to encourage social participation and opportunities for building closer connections for those who seek them.
Active ageing, social isolation, social participation, social network, exercise
Beselt, L. J., McDonough, M. H., Hewson, J., Din, C. (2023). Social support and social barriers for participating in group physical activity among older women living alone. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise & Health, 15(6), 819-834. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2023.2230216