A narrative investigation of adult latina's life experience of physical activity adherence
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The purpose of this study was to explore the lifelong physical activity (PA) stories of Latinas to determine motives that contribute to exercise adherence behaviors. Using an interview process, life histories were collected from six self-identified PA adherents of Hispanic descent. Three narrative analysis techniques were used to analyze the interviews and the transcript of a follow-up focus group meeting. In the first technique, the Holistic-Content perspective and Labovian transcription were used to identify major themes common in the interviews. Adherence themes that emerged were: 1) culture and family, 2) being pushed, 3) health, 4) role models, and 5) competence. A review of these themes resulted in several suggestions for teaching practitioners: 1) including enjoyment as a criteria for planning activities, 2) focusing on positive reinforcement from teachers and families, 3) providing early opportunities for success, and 4) interacting with strong female role models. A second analysis technique, Lakoff and Johnson's linguistic studies using metaphor to understand one idea in terms of another, yielded the concept of love as health. Study participants frequently used the terms love and addiction in connection with PA. Participants suggested the following as characteristics of healthy love relationships: loyalty, community, positive results, and variety. The term addiction, while not specifically a metaphor, emerged during this process as a powerful exercise adherence motivator. Euphoria and "not feeling right unless I exercise" were cited as primary reasons for adherence behavior. The third technique used was Borman's Symbolic Convergence Theory in which a rhetorical community is formed around a fantasy theme. The theme "perfect body" was identified in the stories as common to four of the participants. Via the media and pop culture, the rhetorical community communicates that a "perfect body" can be achieved with PA and diet. The oppressive gendered message here is that a woman's worth is largely determined by the look of her body, and having the perfect body is the way to success. Facilitating the shift from solely external motivators to a more balanced internal/external set of motivators and from solely negative motivators to positive reasons for exercise adherence is the recommended goal for teaching practitioners.
Wagner, Susan Allison (2008). A narrative investigation of adult latina's life experience of physical activity adherence. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from