Acting your age? Sports science and the ageing body

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79 Citations (Scopus)


The medicalisation of aging and old age constructs ageing as first and foremost a biomedical event and as a process of inevitable decline. In sports science and sportsmedicine the functional decrements normally associated with ageing are being addressed. There is evidence reported in the scientific literature suggesting that certain exercise interventions can ‘reduc[e] or prevent […] functional declines linked to secondary aging’ [Goggin, N.L., and Morrow, J.R. Jr. (2001). Physical Activity Behaviors of Older Adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity 9, 58– 66.]. However a sociological critique is necessary. Whilst sports science seeks to position itself as a key player in the fight against ageing, it also opens the potential for the reconstruction of the ageing body as fit. However the evidence that exercise can fundamentally reshape older bodies is equivocal. A new frame is proposed which divorces exercise from anti-ageing purposes and uses the science of exercise to enable older people to recover a sense of physical competence as a creative pursuit in its own right.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-347
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • blackbox
  • anti-ageing
  • ageing body
  • sports science
  • sarcopenia
  • exercise


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