Physical activity and sedentary behaviour: a vital politics of old age?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


A few years ago I wrote an article about physical activity and the positioning of sports science in the anti-ageing project (Tulle, 2008a). As I argued then, a particular narrative pervaded the sport science literature which contributed to the reconstruction of ageing bodies as malleable and fit bodies. I questioned whether and how this narrative could open the way for a significant reconfiguration of old age, one which would begin to address the negative symbolic capital associated with ageing, when the science itself was steeped in the neoliberal project of promoting physical activity as a solution to the ‘burden of ageing’. I concluded that it would be dangerous to accept the turn to physical activity as resistance to cultural marginalisation. Indeed what needs to be done first and foremost is to change the terms of the debates, to unsettle its discursive and ideological anchor. In addition, faced with the ambiguity of the scientific evidence and the apparent reluctance of a majority of older people to fulfil physical activity recommendations, rather than reject the prospect that physical activity could become an integral element of older people’s lives, I proposed that it might be more fruitful to reframe it as a creative or pleasurable engagement with movement, rather than as health-related and anti-ageing behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhysical Activity and Sport in Later Life: Critical Perspectives
EditorsEmmanuelle Tulle, Cassandra Phoenix
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781137429315
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Publication series

NameGlobal Culture and Sport Series
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan UK


  • sociology of the family
  • youth
  • ageing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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