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Key Factors Affecting Participation in Recreational Sports Among Middle-Aged and Older Women


Purpose: To understand middle-aged and older women's experiences of participating in recreational sports during different life courses. Methods: A sampling method was used to include 25 middle-aged and older women living in Taipei City and New Taipei City in Taiwan as research participants. All of them were over 60 years old and regularly participated in group sports and leisure activities. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and analyzed from the perspectives of life course theory, women's leisure, and interpretive phenomenology. Results: The physical activity experience of the middle-aged and older women at different life stages was affected by factors such as differences in social and cultural backgrounds, gaps in educational resources, involvement in housework, and retirement. Before entering marriage, the women participated more in paid labor; after marriage, they mainly focused on housework and care. When they enter retirement, they considered health improvement and interests, preferring recreational physical activity. Conclusion: For older adult women, six crucial social implications exist for athleisure behavioral interactions: (1) Recreational sports is representative of socialization for older women. (2) Sports and leisure groups with older women as main members formed a special stratification. (3) Through participation in recreational sports, older women challenge their own stereotypes. (4) Participation in recreational sports is regarded as a means to achieve successful aging by older women. (5) Use of space for recreational sports by women is affected by factors such as economic conditions and a decline in physical function. (6) Women engage in recreational physical activity mostly for health maintenance.