‘We may be falling apart but we still keep going’: Retired servicemen’s experiences of their ageing bodies

Journal article


Williams, R., Allen-Collinson, J., Evans, A. and Briggs, J. 2018. ‘We may be falling apart but we still keep going’: Retired servicemen’s experiences of their ageing bodies. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise & Health. 10 (2), pp. 190-205.
AuthorsWilliams, R., Allen-Collinson, J., Evans, A. and Briggs, J.
Abstract

Currently, there is scant research that investigates in-depth retired servicemen’s perceptions and experiences of ageing and being physically active, particularly in relation to retirement experiences. In this article, we employ a novel theoretical combination of figurational sociology
and symbolic interactionism to explore a topical life history of 20 retired servicemen’s experiences in relation to physical activity (PA), the ageing body and constructions of identity in later life. Participants were aged 60+
and members of the Royal British Legion in a city in the English Midlands. Three semi-structured focus-group interviews and follow-up conversations were completed, together with informal observations. Key findings revealed that although participants recognised the need for regular PA, their perceptions routinely centred upon the ‘felt’ limitations of the ageing body, often in stark contrast to their former ‘disciplined’, active, military
bodies. Corporeal challenges and limitations discouraged some from taking part in PA altogether. Despite their perceived bodily limitations, however, many ex-service personnel still endeavoured to stay physically active.
Findings highlight the salience of the temporal aspects of older adults’ lived experiences of exercise and PA, for past experiences of PA and exercise were identified as strongly shaping current-day motivations, attitudes and behaviours.

KeywordsRetired servicemen; Retirement; Physical health; Physical activity; Exercise; Older adults
Year2018
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise & Health
Journal citation10 (2), pp. 190-205
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis
ISSN2159-676X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/2159676X.2017.1366357
Official URLhttps://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2017.1366357
Publication dates
Print15 Sep 2017
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Aug 2017
Deposited27 Feb 2020
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
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