Back from the brink: ageing, exercise and health in a small gym

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Published

Documents

  • Tulle, E (2012) Back from the brink

    Rights statement: Copyright © 2012 Cambridge University Press. Originally published in: Ageing and Society (2012), 32 (7), pp.1106-1127. Final version available from publisher's website via the DOI link below.

    Accepted author manuscript, 74 KB, PDF-document

DOI

View graph of relations

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1106-1127
Number of pages22
JournalAgeing and Society
Volume32
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Abstract

This paper discusses data from a qualitative study which explored older adults’ experiences of becoming regular exercisers in a gym triggered by health problems and their interactions with their younger gym instructors. A key question which the study sought to address was whether becoming embedded in the subfield of exercise challenged traditional discourses of ageing (age habitus). While these older gym users reported significant benefits (greater health capital, expanded social networks and a return to active life after illness), they nevertheless were engaged in a complex and ambiguous negotiation of attitudes to bodily ageing and meanings of fitness and competence. In contrast, the instructors subscribed to a model of physical activity oriented towards physical capital as greater fitness. The paper suggests that these positions manifest competing understandings about what constitutes appropriate and desirable physical capital in later life. Budgetary constraints, beliefs about physical ability, professional expectations and the persistence of the discourse of decline prevent this gap being easily bridged and alternative notions of ageing physicality colonising the sub-field of exercise. The paper concludes there is a need to develop ways of breaking down barriers in communication to overcome divergent understandings of what constitutes legitimate physical capital as we get older.

Keywords

  • old age, physical capital, age habitus, gym, health, physical activity

Download statistics

No data available