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Physical Activity Among Older Women Living in Rural Areas in Canada

Category: Journal Articles


Irwin, P.M. (2022) Physical Activity Among Older Women Living in Rural Areas in Canada: A Scoping Review. Population Ageing.

Although there is strong evidence linking physical activity in older age with wellbeing and health benefits, these relationships tend to be under-researched in a rural context. A scoping review was conducted to identify what is known about physical activity among older women living in rural Canada. The search strategy was intentionally broad, with eight databases, academic journals, and websites scanned for research and grey literature related to Canada, in English, from 2000 to 2022. 33 studies, reviews, and reports were included in the final selection. These articles indicate that physical activity among older women living in rural Canada is influenced by a multitude of layers, contexts, conditions, and environments, with outcomes dependent on a mixture of personal, relational, community, societal, and governmental factors. In general, the women are committed to creating and maintaining an active lifestyle, and supporting their local rural community to enable these activities. While the social environment can proscribe physical activity through ageist attitudes and restrictive socio-cultural norms, social support from family and community members mitigates against these constraints. Rural infrastructure, geography, climate (seasons and weather), as well as transportation and policy issues may also impede the physical activity opportunities of the women. Some of the problems related to sustaining and resourcing recreational activity in rural communities are partly addressed through the implications presented in the articles. Among others, these suggestions relate to leadership and learning opportunities, public engagement, and the partnership working involved in supporting physical activity in rural areas. However, further research is long overdue.

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