Sitting as a moral practice: older adults’ accounts from qualitative interviews on sedentary behaviours

Palmer, V. J., Gray, C. M. , Fitzsimons, C., Mutrie, N., Wyke, S. , Der, G. , Chastin, S. F.M. and Skelton, D. A. (2021) Sitting as a moral practice: older adults’ accounts from qualitative interviews on sedentary behaviours. Sociology of Health and Illness, 43(9), pp. 2102-2120. (doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.13383) (PMID:34724232)

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Abstract

Amidst public health campaigns urging people to sit less as well as being more physically active, this paper investigates how older adults make sense of their sedentary behaviour. Using an accounts framework focusing on how people rationalise their sitting practices, we analysed data from 44 qualitative interviews with older adults. All interviewees had received information about sedentary behaviour and health, visual feedback on their own objectively measured sitting over a week and guidance on sitting less. Participants used accounts to position sitting as a moral practice, distinguishing between ‘good’ (active/‘busy’) and ‘bad’ (passive/‘not busy’) sitting. This allowed them to align themselves with acceptable (worthwhile) forms of sitting and distance themselves from other people whose sitting they viewed as less worthwhile. However, some participants also described needing to sit more as they got older. The findings suggest that some public health messaging may lead to stigmatisation around sitting. Future sedentary behaviour guidelines and public health campaigns should consider more relatable guidelines that consider the lived realities of ageing, and the individual and social factors that shape them. They should advocate finding a balance between sitting and moving that is appropriate for each person.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) as part of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (LLHW; MR/K025023/1). Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 data collection was supported by Age UK (Disconnected Mind Grant) and MRC (MR/M01311/1) and undertaken within the University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and MRC as part of the LLHW (MR/K026992/1). West of Scotland Twenty-07 data collection was supported by the MRC and undertaken by the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (MC_A540_53462).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wyke, Professor Sally and Palmer, Dr Victoria and Gray, Professor Cindy and Der, Mr Geoffrey
Creator Roles:
Palmer, V.Investigation, Data curation, Formal analysis, Methodology, Project administration, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Gray, C.Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Supervision, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Wyke, S.Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Formal analysis, Methodology, Supervision, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Der, G.Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Resources, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Palmer, V. J., Gray, C. M., Fitzsimons, C., Mutrie, N., Wyke, S., Der, G., Chastin, S. F.M., and Skelton, D. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Sociology of Health and Illness
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0141-9889
ISSN (Online):1467-9566
Published Online:01 November 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Sociology of Health and Illness 43(9): 2102-2120
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190855Seniors USP - Understanding Sedentary Patterns Professor Dawn SkeltonGeoffrey DerMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/K025023/1HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit