Framing physical literacy for aging adults: an integrative review Academic Article uri icon

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  • Purpose

    Physical literacy is an important component for improving functional health for adults. However, little is known how physical literacy can be framed to support the rehabilitation needs of aging adults.


    An integrative review was conducted to understand what components are used to frame physical literacy for adults. Electronic databases were searched from 2000-2021 for eligibility criteria including: 1) adults ≥45 years of age, 2) addressed physical literacy OR physical literacy components AND referred to outcomes assessing either mobility, physical function, rehabilitation, health promotion, health prevention, public health, or physical activity.


    A total of 22 articles met the inclusion criteria. The varied methodological quality, including grey literature (50%) to systematic reviews (14%), indicates that physical literacy for adults is a novel topic. When defining physical literacy for adults, 13 new constructs emerged with purposeful activities, knowledge of age-related changes and social interaction as the top three. Physical literacy interventions demonstrated improvements in self-efficacy, physical function, and exercise behaviour.


    Findings from the current literature indicate that engagement in purposeful, social, and diverse activities, obtaining knowledge of age-related changes and being able to self-adapt to mobility fluctuations is the foundation to becoming a physically literate adult.Implications for RehabilitationPhysical literacy is emerging as a promising health strategy for adults and older adults.Reconceptualization of the physical literacy construct to include rehabilitation approaches is needed to address the mobility challenges associated with aging.The foundation to becoming a physically literate adult involves monitoring one's ability for movement and having the knowledge to identify and remediate changes in function while engaging in purposeful movements.Physical literacy programs for adults and older adults have potential to positively impact important health outcomes equitably for all individuals.

publication date

  • December 18, 2022