Project-based Serious Leisure in Adventure Sports: Diggers not duffers – a case study of cavers aged 65 and over

Rosser, Sharon (2018) Project-based Serious Leisure in Adventure Sports: Diggers not duffers – a case study of cavers aged 65 and over. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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There are currently in excess of ten million people aged 65+ in the United Kingdom, with the number predicted to almost double to 19 million by 2050 (Cracknell, 2010). This equates to an increase of one-in-four of the UK population aged 65+ compared to one-in-six currently (Rutherford, 2012). There has been much concern about the consequences of an ageing population on health care systems and an emphasis on health and wellbeing to help older adults age well. Research suggests that leisure activities play an important role for older adults and successful ageing (Menec, 2003; Nimrod, 2007; Payne, Mowen & Montoro-Rodriguez, 2006). Boyes (2013) highlighted the multi-dimensional benefits of outdoor adventure activities and successful ageing, in particular, the physical, social and psychological gains that can be afforded by such activities. The aim of this investigation was to identify how caving is perceived by a small group of older adult males, an often marginalised and hard to reach group. The exploratory nature of the work was to determine the value of any deeper research in this direction and its potential worth to both theory and practice. The project used a small convenience and purposive sample (Mason, 2002; Patton, 2002). Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were conducted with adult male cavers (n=4), aged between 65 – 74, from the North of England. Themes were identified through manual handling data analysis with internal and external checking throughout. Five key themes emerged: Adventure; risk; identity; serious leisure and managing health related adversity and in order to afford the work critical value, only the latter two were selected for inclusion in this work. Whilst this study indicates the need for further research, it also highlights the benefits of caving in active aging, supporting Boyes’ (2013) notion that adventure sports are mentally and physically challenging, enable social interaction and engagement with the natural environment.

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