Factors influencing participation in physical exercise by the elderly in Eldoret West District, Kenya
Regular exercise has been recommended as a partial solution to improving health and wellness among many groups of people including the elderly. Unfortunately, information on the participation of elderly in exercise in Kenya is lacking. This study sought to explore measures for enhancing participation in exercise by the elderly in Eldoret West district, Kenya. The study utilized cross-sectional survey research design. Data were collected among the elderly people aged 50 years and above in Eldoret West district. The instruments of data collection were structured interviews, questionnaires and focused group discussions. The sample size for the study was 260 elderly from an estimated population of 2600 in Eldoret West district. These respondents were sampled through snowballing techniques. However, analysis was conducted on 241 elders. The data collected were analyzed by descriptive statistics employing frequency distributions, chi-square tests and correlation analysis using Statistical package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 16.0). Results indicated low participation (18%) of elderly in exercises even at home (8.3%). The exercises in which elderly participated were mainly jogging, walking and attending the gym, which were attended less frequently. However, the factors that affected the participation of the elderly were mainly personal value, cultural, gender, customs and traditions of the elders. It was further established that there were mainly negative attitudes to exercise, low levels of awareness, lack of facilities among other reasons cited by the elderly with some citing disability as the reasons for low participation. However, the elderly also agreed that their main reasons for engaging in exercises were: presence of finance to pay, encouragements from the family members, and high levels of education among other things. It was further established that the elderly engaged in exercises to become alert, to increase confidence, to maintain health and as a way of passing time. Finally, it was established that the elders lacked time, money and space among other things that should be availed to enhance participation in exercises. They however agreed, to be provided with opportunities and facilities and moral support for them to participate in exercises. This study established that there is low participation in exercises by the elderly in Eldoret West district, Kenya which is attributed to negative attitudes to exercise, low levels of awareness, lack of facilities and disability. However, the elderly maintained that their main reasons for engaging in exercises were: presence of finance to pay, encouragements from the family members, and high levels of education. It is thus recommended that local authorities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Kenya, take up responsibility for the funding and designing of the exercises for elderly people in Kenya as well as providing the adequate facilities and equipment for their successful implementation.
Key words: Exercise, participation, elderly people, Kenya.