An exploration of barriers and facilitators to older adults’ participation in higher impact physical activity and bone health: A qualitative study

B. A.J. Simmonds*, K. J. Hannam, K. R. Fox, J. H. Tobias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)
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Summary - This qualitative study explored the acceptability of high-impact physical activity for increasing bone strength in later life. Thematic analysis established the barriers and facilitators to this physical activity. They prioritised joint over skeletal health, of which they had little concept. Interventions need to clearly communicate the rationale and benefits.

Introduction - The aim of this study was to explore the acceptability of doing high-impact physical activity in later life.

Methods - This qualitative study was embedded within a large-scale observational study and was designed to address specific objectives and feed into a subsequent intervention. Five focus groups with physically active men and women (over 50 years) were used to develop an interview topic guide to explore the acceptability of high-impact physical activity in older men and women (over 65 years) in South West England. A total of 28 semi-structured interviews with 31 participants were then conducted and transcripts analysed thematically.

Results - Three main barriers emerged: conceptualising bone, damage to joints and falling/safety concerns. Two main facilitators were also identified: the need to understand clear tangible benefits and incorporation of activity into everyday habits. Older adults were interested how high-impact physical activity would help to maintain their mobility, independence or social relationships. Some participants wanted tangible feedback from accelerometers, health care professionals and/or bone scans in order to develop a more intimate knowledge of their bone health.

Conclusions - Interventions incorporating high-impact physical activity for older adults need to communicate how this activity can impact more broadly on health and lives; that physical activity will be safe, beneficial and not damaging to their joints will need to be clearly conveyed. Ways in which high-impact physical activity can be habitualised into everyday activities, be fun and interactive may help facilitate longer term adoption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-987
Number of pages9
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number3
Early online date10 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone health
  • High impact
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity
  • Qualitative


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