Selling out of doors recreation amongst older adults in Sweden – a theoretical and empirical basis for the event of an intervention

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Arch public health. December 27, 2021; 79 (1): 232. doi: 10.1186 / s13690-021-00762-6.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Not taking part in outdoor recreation can reduce the positive effects on health and well-being in old age. The purpose of this study is to present a contextual, theoretical and empirical rationale for an intervention that aims to encourage the continued engagement of older adults in outdoor recreation in the Swedish context.

METHODS: The paper provides a contextualization of outdoor leisure in Sweden, a presentation of evidence on health benefits related to outdoor leisure engagement, along with theoretical frameworks that can guide future intervention designs. In order to supplement empirical knowledge, a mixed methods approach was used, which includes empirical data collection on the basis of a quantitative survey (n = 266) and partially structured individual interviews with older adults (n = 12). Survey data were presented with descriptive statistics. Associations between withdrawal from previous activities and age and gender were analyzed using Chi2 tests. Transcripts and handwritten notes from the interviews were qualitatively analyzed to identify key issues as well as patterns and differences between respondents.

RESULTS: Outdoor recreation was rated important / very important by 90% of respondents. In the interviews, it was emphasized that engagement in leisure activities helped the respondents to keep fit, but was also relevant in terms of identity, experiences and daily routines. Outdoor recreational activities near home were the most commonly reported, and walking was the most common. While 80% rated their state of health as good / very good, disabilities and long-term illnesses were widespread, and in the previous year more than half of all respondents had given up on previously exercised activities. Reasons for the withdrawal were mainly health impairments or strenuous activities, but also social losses. The interviews indicated that continued engagement was important but also challenging and that withdrawal due to changing circumstances could be viewed as a loss or accepted.

CONCLUSIONS: When designing an intervention that aims to encourage the involvement of older adults in outdoor recreation, the following characteristics are suggested to be considered: person-centering, promoting functioning, combating self-aging, providing environmental support, encouragement of subjective mobility needs and adaptation to find new ways of spending free time outdoors.

PMID: 34961546 | PMC: PMC8710819 | DOI: 10.1186 / s13690-021-00762-6