Alaska native elders' perspectives on physical activity and successful aging

Lauren A. Brooks-Cleator, Jordan P. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Physical activity is widely considered to be a significant contributing factor to how successfully one ages. There are, however, certain groups whose voices have not been widely heard in discussions around physical activity and aging, particularly those from diverse cultural backgrounds. In this research, we explored how Alaska Native Elders perceive the role of physical activity as they age and its contribution to successful aging. Based on semi-structured interviews with 41 Elders, the results show that engaging in physical activity was not just seen as a personal responsibility to maintain health and age successfully, but also as a way to resist Western society's dominant view of older adults as deteriorating and declining by being physically active regardless of age; to improve or maintain their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health; and/or to enable them to continue participating in subsistence activities that are rooted in their culture and traditional roles as Elders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-304
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal on Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* We thank all of the Elders who participated in this research, as well as the Elder Care Coordinators in each community and the members of the Elder Advisory Committee. This study was funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Polar Programs, Arctic Social Sciences, Award #: 1522744 (Principal Investigator, JP Lewis) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement, Funding Reference Number FSS-149189.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2019.


  • Aging
  • Alaska Native Elders
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Physical activity
  • Successful aging

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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