Background Physical activity (PA) is essential for older adults with osteoporosis, and health care professionals play important roles in promoting PA and encouraging patients to make healthy choices. However, many factors influence habitual PA, and there is only limited knowledge about the perceptions and experiences of PA among older women with osteoporosis.
Objectives The purpose of this study was to describe perceptions and experiences of PA and the factors that influence habitual PA among older adults with osteoporosis, impaired balance, and fear of falling.
Design This was a qualitative interview study applying interpretive content analysis with an inductive approach.
Methods Informants were a purposeful sample of 18 women, aged 66 to 86 years, with osteoporosis, impaired balance, and fear of falling. Individual, semistructured, face-to-face interviews were recorded, transcribed, condensed, and coded to find subthemes and themes.
Results The overall theme found was “Physical activity—a tool for staying healthy with osteoporosis.” This overall theme comprised 2 main themes interpreting the challenges and possibilities of being physically active with osteoporosis. These themes were not separate but rather linked to each other like 2 sides of the same coin, with factors that could act as both barriers to and facilitators of PA. Personal preferences and osteoporosis-related concerns influenced habitual PA, and individualization was perceived as important.
Limitations Some results may be context specific and limit the transferability to people with other cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds.
Conclusions The women perceived that PA was an important tool to maintain health with osteoporosis and believed that they had a responsibility to use this tool. They had adapted to disease-specific limitations and developed strategies to overcome challenges and barriers to PA. Lack of PA promotion and conflicting advice about PA from physicians created uncertainty. Encouragement and guidance from physical therapists, individually or in groups, were very important.
All authors provided concept/idea/research design, writing, and data analysis. Ms Dohrn provided data collection. Professor Ståhle provided project management, fund procurement, and facilities/equipment. Dr Roaldsen provided consultation (including review of manuscript before submission). The authors thank all of the informants who made this study possible. They also acknowledge physical therapist students Sofie Werjefelt and Johan Lidén for their help with transcription of 6 interviews and Dr Osmond Crosby for help with translation of the quotations.
The study was supported by grants through the Regional Agreement on Medical Training and Clinical Research between the Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet (ALF) and from the Swedish Research Council (521-2010-2483, 521-2013-255).
- Received March 6, 2015.
- Accepted July 14, 2015.
- © 2016 American Physical Therapy Association