What’s the best approach for motivating older athletes? Do you know how to support these clients in achieving their personal goals? Understanding their “whys” and motivations is essential to increasing participation and adherence. And yet, till now, we’ve known little about what sparks older athletes to train.

Scandinavian researchers conducted a qualitative study to understand the factors motivating older athletes, both male and female triathletes aged 57–70 years, to undergo supervised training and participate in competition. Interviews with subjects revealed that older triathletes were motivated by

  • activity enjoyment;
  • community;
  • stress reduction and the endorphin “kick”;
  • satisfaction from learning new skills;
  • progress (their own and others’);
  • mastery and proficiency; and
  • breaking barriers related to improving knowledge and achieving training goals.

“Psychological well-being and feelings of being in good physical shape are positively related to the depth of involvement in a personalized training program in older adults,” wrote the study authors. “Promoting specific age-appropriate opportunities for older people to participate in the sport of triathlon may be a new but effective strategy for encouraging a healthy lifestyle among elderly.”

The study is available in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being  (2021; 16 [1], ).

See also: Training Techniques for High-Performance Older Athletes