Eur Rev Aging Phys Act 2019 5;16. Epub 2019 Apr 5.
1Department of Health and Rehabilitation, Unit of Physiotherapy, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Box 455, 405 30 Göteborg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Background: Besides being health enhancing and disease preventing, exercise is also an important part of the management of chronic conditions, including the inflammatory joint disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, older adults with RA present a lower level of physical activity than healthy older adults. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore aspects of participation in moderate- to high-intensity exercise with person-centred guidance influencing the transition to independent exercise for older adults with RA.
Methods: A qualitative interview study was conducted. In-depth interviews with 16 adults with RA aged between 68 and 75 years, who had taken part in the intervention arm of a randomized controlled trial performing moderate- to- high-intensity exercise with person-centred guidance, were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
Results: The analysis resulted in six main categories: A feasible opportunity to adopt exercise, Experiencing positive effects of exercise, Contextual factors affect the experience of exercise, Developing knowledge and thinking, Finding one's way, and Managing barriers for exercise. The exercise with person-centred guidance was described as a feasible opportunity to start exercising as a basis for the transition to independent exercise. They described developing knowledge and thinking about exercise during the intervention enabling them to manage the transition to independent exercise. Finding one's own way for exercise became important for sustaining independent exercise. Lastly, barriers for exercise and strategies for overcoming these were described. Reduced physical health, both temporary and permanent, was described as a considerable barrier for exercise.
Conclusion: The participants described several aspects of participating in exercise that influenced and facilitated their transition to independent exercise. The exercise was experienced as manageable and positive, by a careful introduction and development of an individual exercise routine in partnership with a physiotherapist. This seems to have favored the development of self-efficacy, with importance for future independent exercise. Reduced physical health, both temporary and permanent, was described as a considerable barrier for exercise. The personal process of trying to make the exercise one's own, and developing knowledge about exercise and new thoughts about oneself, seemed to prepare the participants for managing independent exercise and overcoming barriers.