Becoming a hillwalker: incorporating history in understandings of physical activity

Emmanuelle Tulle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
176 Downloads (Pure)


This paper challenges dominant explanations of physical activity participation in later life as they tend to prioritise individual motivation at the expense of other explanations. Reference is also made to generational characteristics. What the recourse to generation tends to do is reinforce stereotypes of age, while the more complex and deep-seated processes which affect the development of dispositions to physical movement are not highlighted. Furthermore, the conditions in which physical activity can be maintained throughout the lifecourse are occluded. I propose therefore that we should recast physical activity participation within the context of a history of appropriate and normative physicality acting as a weight which infuses whether and how we develop physical activity as a durable practice. In the process, I will adopt an eclectic theoretical stance. To bring the complexities of physical activity participation to the fore, I will focus on my own experiences of a particular type of physical activity: hillwalking. I will make the case for a critical autobiographical approach to show how important history has been in the awakening of my physical dispositions and in the long journey of identity formation. I conclude that we can conceive of obstacles to physically active embodiment as manifestations of oppression rather than as a question of individual motivation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-182
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017


  • physical actitvity
  • embodiment
  • age
  • career
  • gender


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