Understanding the young at heart: seeing older adult climbers the way they see themselves
Mark Hickman, Allison Inkster, Lynne Fitzgerald
Currently, there are in excess of 10 million people in the United Kingdom aged over 65 with this number predicted to rise to 19 million by 2050; over this period the USA will see an increase from 70 to 80 million, and in the Czech Republic the population aged 60+ is forecast to rise from 23.7% to 40.1%. The past decade has seen the rapid development of scholarship into active ageing, yet research into how older adults perceive adventure sports has been lacking and indicates a need for investigation in this direction. The aim of this study was to discover how outdoor sport, specifically climbing, is conceptualized by older adults aged 65-74 and used a purposive sample that was able to offer a meaningful perspective of what it means to be an active climber in ‘young-old’ age. This pilot study used interview questionnaires with climbers (n=8) with an average age of 70.2 climbing regularly in the north of England. Themes were identified through manual data handling and internal and external checking carried out. Initially, four main themes emerged: the maintenance of physical and mental health and fitness; maintaining social contact; enjoying the natural environment; and, generating a meaningful identity.