The amount of older adults is increasing rapidly and the demands of an aging population will need to be met by professionals in many fields, including exercise science. However, many undergraduate students do not want to work with older adults. Therefore, this qualitative study sought to examine the experiences and perceptions of exercise science students who served as research assistants in a six-month walking program for senior citizens. Students recognized that their previous ageist views about older adults’ functioning (which originated from personal experiences, education, and society) were challenged by the walking program. Subsequently, more positive views on aging, being an older adult, and working with older adults were elicited by their assistance in the research study. Results from this investigation suggest that exercise science and allied health students be exposed to aging-sensitive experiences to dispel ageist perceptions and ultimately increase the workforce needed to serve this expanding population.
Keywords: aging, older adults, stereotypes, ageism, qualitative research
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