Beyond "Move More": Feeling the Rhythms of physical activity in mid and later-life

Cassandra Phoenix, Sarah L Bell

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The last two decades has seen growing unease regarding the negative health consequences of increasing levels of physical inactivity, both in the UK and further afield. Public health initiatives and interventions aimed at increasing levels of physical activity have therefore become somewhat commonplace. Within the current context of demographic change, with growing numbers of older adults and evidence that inactivity increases with age, these initiatives hold particular relevance to mid and later-life adults. Yet despite their prevalence, the policy gains from such promotional efforts have typically been modest at best, prompting calls to rethink our approach to physical activity. The prevalence of health messages encouraging people to ‘sit less’, ‘move more’ and most recently, ‘move faster’, has emerged alongside a deeper theoretical interest in active mobilities in everyday life.

Through our focus on the concept of rhythm, in this we paper provide an original contribution to recent attempts at rethinking approaches to physical activity in mid-life and beyond. We draw from three qualitative data sets from separate studies exploring health, wellbeing and ageing (two in the context of chronic health conditions and sensory impairments). Inspired by facet methodology, we advance knowledge by providing ‘flashes of insight’ into the subtle patterns and tempos that frame physical activity in mid and later life. In doing so, we offer alternative insight into how people avail themselves to, and experience motion and stillness during these life stages. That alternative, as we also note, has an important role to play in the development appropriate, relatable health messages regarding movement that recognises ‘expertise by experience’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date4 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


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