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Public and environmental health, Sport and fitness sciences, Sociology, Cultural and economic geography
The life expectancy of the world population is increasing and the art of aging well is of global interest (European Commission, n.d.). In Ireland, the number of people over the age of 60 will increase from 1.1 million currently, to 2.44 million by 2041, constituting nearly one third of its total population (Institute of Public Health, 2018). Despite the benefits of regular physical activity (pa), particularly with the frail (≥65 years and requiring a walking aid), rates of participation remain low (Colley et al., 2011). Health concerns raised, such as smoking and weight issues, are more prevalent in this cohort (Witcher et al., 2016). Currently, when they reach a certain age, pa is not seen as beneficial and older adults refrain from participating in pa (Witcher et al., 2016), particularly post-retirement (Chaudhury and Shelton, 2010). Education of the older population concerning the benefits of pa is critical, and pa perceptions and behaviours must be examined both contextually and historically (Witcher et al., 2016) to provide greater clarity and understanding. In order to develop a more comprehensive, inclusive policy for active ageing in Ireland, particularly rural Ireland, we need to reflect on the research to date. This conceptual paper develops a framework of meaning-making to active leisure, focusing on perceptions and motivations of a rural based population. It also examines the impact of being physically active on participating in tourism in this population and how Ireland is targeting this growing older market for various forms of tourism activity. An unhealthy population brings a financial burden to the country. Encouraging a healthier lifestyle which includes more meaningful active leisure, facilitating an engagement with tourism, is required to enable this cohort to age healthily and well and thus reduce the cost associated with an ageing population.
Hartnett, A. and Gorman, C. (2022) Active Leisure and Ageing in Rural Ireland: Exploring Perceptions and Motivations to Facilitate and Promote Meaningful Physical Activity. Academica Turistica, Vol. 15, No.1. pp.65-80. DOI: 10.26493/2335-4194.15.65-80