[ONLINE] University of Aveiro, Portugal

October 21, 22 and 23 2020

Physical Exercise Practice and Empowerment of Elderly Women: A Systematic Review

Erica Vila Real Montefusco
Francisco Welligton de Sousa Barbosa Junior
José Clerton de Oliveira Martins

We know that aging is a process that encompasses several areas, such as biological, psychological, social and cultural. These scopes are part of what is meant by active and successful aging. We also know that, in our western cultures, the aging processes experienced by women are quite different from those of men, given the hegemonic discourses that historically permeate the construction of being a woman, which includes knowledge, behaviours and apprehensions about themselves. Thus, taking into account this gender aspect and that the practice of physical exercises is of fundamental importance for the empowerment of the subject in aging, contributing to the construction of active and successful aging, the present study, of a theoretical and exploratory nature, sought to identify the academic production about the empowerment of elderly women from the practice of physical exercises in contemporary times. For this purpose, a systematic literature review on the topic was fulfilled in Scielo, LILACS and PePsic databases, using the descriptors “aging and contemporaneity”, “old age and contemporaneity”, “aging and women”, “aging and physical exercise “,” old age and physical exercise “, and” physical exercise and elderly “. Such searches presented as inclusion criteria articles published between the years 2007 and 2018, in Portuguese and English.  As a result, 33 articles were selected, from which it could be noted that, although there is an increase in the elderly population in Brazil and in the world, aging is still a process permeated by stigmas. Female aging, peculiarly, shows itself linked to physical inactivity, loss of reproductive capacity and dissatisfaction with one’s own body, in a painful reality for the aging woman. It was also observed that increasing age can contribute to a decrease in the individual’s functional capacities. On the other hand, in elderly women who practice physical exercises, their functional capacity and perception of well-being remained high. In this context, the practice of physical exercises proved to be open to new possibilities, with an increase in social plasticity and as a means of compensating and optimizing opportunities, also contributing to personal growth and awakening new ways of coping with adversities – be they those arising from physical limitations or stigmas about aging. In addition to the benefits mentioned, the practice of physical exercises contributed to a better perception of oneself, with an increase in self-esteem and health – in the face of stigmas that associate old age with words such as decrepitude and illness. The regular practice of physical exercises, in addition to preventing diseases triggered by physical inactivity and providing valuable social resources, is configured as a form of well-being and empowerment for an elderly woman. In this scope, these old ages do not necessarily need a body considered beautiful and young, according to the hegemonic discourses. This leads us to the statement that, from the experience of such practices, these elderly women become agents of their own lives, building their being-women and their old age, and thus questioning the rigidity imposed by the hegemonic discourses on being an elderly woman.

Keywords: Aging; physical exercise; old woman.