Revista de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 0124-0064
SANTANA, Maria da Silva and CHAVES MAIA, Eulália M. Senior citizen's physical activity and welfare. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2009, vol.11, n.2, pp.225-236. ISSN 0124-0064. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0124-00642009000200007.
Objective This work analysed senior citizens' perception of needs and social values involved in taking physical activity for their own benefit. This study's main aim was to investigate social representations of 3rd age physical activity. Methods This was a cross-sectional, interdisciplinary qualitative study, underpinned by theoretical-methodological social representation theory. A convenience, non-probabilistic, census-dependent method was used for obtaining the sample of 62 people aged 50 to 78 from north-eastern Brazil. The data were collected by using the free word association technique and analysed by EVOC/2000 software. Results Analysing the replies led to three types of elements being identified which were related to the social representation of physical activity as attributed by the elderly: a psychological dimension (represented by happiness, well-being), a social dimension (dancing) and a biophysical dimension (gymnastics, water-gymnastics and health). The term "happiness" stood out most in the word recall tests. When relating old age to the sample's social representation of physical activity, the study showed that physical activity assumed a preponderant role in the life of the elderly through cyclical appreciation-depreciation, social representation simultaneously and gradually acquiring "life having more health and quality" from social representation. Conclusions The subjects reported a positive association between physical activity, social interaction and well-being. The elderly also believed in physical activity's effects on physical-motor aspects and health. The social representation of physical activity by the group being studied was close to the physical activity's biopsychosocial dimension.
Keywords : Physical activity; elderly; quality of life.