106 Older adults’ perspectives on participation in a community arts-based programme (Music and Movement for Health): a qualitative study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background Ireland, like most counties worldwide, has an ageing population. It is estimated that there will be greater than one million older adults by 2031, demonstrating an increase from 13% (2015) to 20% of the overall population. Physical inactivity, which increases with age, is associated with greater multimorbidity, mortality and economic burden. Arts-based exercise programmes are an emerging area of preventative healthcare. The aim of this study was to explore the opinions and experiences of older adults on Music and Movement for Health (MMH), a tailored arts-based exercise programme. Methods An embedded qualitative study was conducted among older adults who participated in MMH. Data were collected through four focus groups (n = 33) and telephone interviews (n = 5). Data were analysed inductively using thematic analysis. Results Three overarching themes were developed; ‘Encouraging Exercise Through the Arts’, ‘Socialising in the Community: Experiences and Influences’, and ‘Coming to Terms with Retirement’, with a total of six subthemes. Participants recognised that MMH was a novel and unique programme and were attracted to MMH due to an interest in music and dance. The behaviour change techniques facilitated exercise habit formation. Through MMH, participants were able to interact with others in the community and, for some, this led to new connections within the group. Finally, the findings highlight the experiences of participants who stated they faced significant changes to their lives following retirement; however, participating in MMH provided structure to their lives. Conclusion The inclusion of music and dance into an exercise class was desirable to many older adults and promoted exercise habit formation. Overall, MMH appears to be an enjoyable programme which had positive perceived effects on mental and physical health. MMH is a unique evidence-based programme designed with input from key stakeholders, and community-dwelling older adults can potentially benefit from this intervention across the country.


  • O'Reilly, S
  • Fitzell, C
  • Bhriain, O Ni
  • O'Malley, N
  • Cheung, P-S
  • Byrne, S
  • Moss, H
  • Thabane, Lehana
  • O’Neill, D
  • Glynn, L
  • Gowran, RJ
  • Woods, CB
  • Maher, C
  • Louw, Q
  • Clifford, AM

publication date

  • September 14, 2023