• Adherence to exercise in later life: How can exercise on prescription programmes be made more effective?

      Thurston, Miranda; Green, Ken; University College Chester (Oxford University Press, 2004-09-01)
      A broad consensus has emerged in relation to the desirability of promoting exercise among a variety of ‘at risk’ groups via ‘exercise on prescription’ (EoP) schemes, as an alternative to orthodox, biomedical approaches to the management of health problems. Underpinning the rationale for such schemes is the notion that they can act as vehicles for encouraging long-term adherence to exercise. Whilst there is a common sense appeal to using EoP schemes to promote exercise, research to date suggests that evidence of their impact is limited. This paper attempts to make sense of these findings in the light of recent debates about adult lifestyles and exercise. More specifically, it brings work in the sociology of leisure to bear on the topic, on the premise that any study of adults' propensity towards sustainable physical activity needs to be viewed as an aspect of their lives ‘in the round’. Such an analysis points up the value of synthesizing perspectives from across the disciplinary divide in order to shed light on particular ‘problems’, which obviate the necessity for further empirical work. The paper concludes by identifying a number of implications for public health policy and practice with respect to the matter of encouraging lifelong participation in sport and exercise in general, and via EoP schemes in particular. One such implication is the development of a model for understanding participation that shifts the emphasis away from a focus on motivation and behaviour change per se towards satisfaction and enjoyment through the development of skills and relationships. Reconceptualizing the matter of participation in this way is likely to lead not only to a more realistic appreciation of what can be expected from EoP schemes, but also a more adequate understanding of adherence to exercise in later life.
    • Health benefits of Tai Chi exercise: Improved balance and blood pressure in middle-aged women

      Thornton, Everard W.; Sykes, Kevin; Tang, Wai K.; University of Liverpool ; University College Chester ; University College Chester (Oxford University Press, 2004-03-01)
      Tai Chi has been widely practiced as a Chinese martial art that focuses on slow sequential movements, providing a smooth, continuous and low intensity activity. It has been promoted to improve balance and strength and to reduce falls in the elderly, especially those 'at risk'. The potential benefits in healthy younger age cohorts and for wider aspects of health have received less attention. The present study documented prospective changes in balance and vascular responses for a community sample of middle-aged women. Seventeen relatively sedentary but healthy normotensive women aged 33-55 years were recruited into a three times per week, 12-week Tai Chi exercise programme. A further 17 sedentary subjects matched for age and body size were recruited as a control group. Dynamic balance measured by the Functional Reach Test was significantly improved following Tai Chi, with significant decreases in both mean systolic (9.71 mmHg) and diastolic (7.53 mmHg) blood pressure. The data confirm that Tai Chi exercise can be a good choice of exercise for middle-aged adults, with potential benefits for ageing as well as the aged.