1. Witcher, Chad S. G. PhD


The last 3 decades of research in exercise science have demonstrated the role of physical activity (PA) in maintaining, as well as improving, a variety of health outcome measures in older adults. However, rates of regular participation in PA remain relatively low. This is a significant public health issue, as inactive and insufficiently physically active older adults are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Furthermore, disparities in PA exist. For example, older adults in rural areas are less physically active than those in urban areas. Determining why such disparities in health and PA participation exist is a complex, but important endeavor and, presently, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. By adopting interpretive research methodologies and methods (ie, "qualitative"), we can explore various contextual factors such as historical influences, social norms, and the cultural milieu of particular locations, which may influence area-specific participation in PA. Drawing upon research conducted in Canada, this article discusses the PA perceptions, preferences, and experiences of rural older adults, contextualizes these findings for practice, and considers to what extent a "rethink" of approaches to PA promotion may be necessary to serve future generations of rural older adults.