Outdoor Adventurous Sport: For All Ages?

  • Elizabeth C. J. Pike


The focus of this chapter is on the experiences of older adults who choose to become involved in outdoor adventurous sporting activities in later life, giving particular consideration to the ways in which age affects the way that people think about sport and the impact of such activities in later life. Activities such as mountaineering and watersports in open water are generally undertaken in the natural outdoor environment and are associated with a degree of risk-taking (Collins and Collins, Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 12(1), 81–93, 2012). The participation of older people in such activities appears to represent a shift away from the ‘deficit’ model towards a ‘heroic’ model of ageing, yet neither model fully reflects the views and experiences of older people (Reed et al., Getting old is not for cowards. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2003). However, these models continue to inform much of the research and policy agendas that affect the lives of older people. In this chapter, I respond to the proposal that we should pay more attention to ageing in ways that are meaningful to the individual, or what has been described as ‘authentic ageing’ (see Biggs, Old age and agency. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2004; Ranzijn, Journal of Health Psychology, 15(5), 716–723, 2010), drawing on Bourdieu’s (Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. New York: Greenwood Press, 1985a) concept of capital and the work of Erving Goffman (The presentation of self in everyday life. London: Penguin, 1959) and his conceptualisation of the development and display of character. In particular, I argue that engagement in outdoor adventurous activities should not be understood solely as something ‘brave’ or ‘heroic’, but rather that these are part of what I refer to as ‘everyday ageing’ for those who choose to participate in them.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth C. J. Pike
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HertfordshireHatfieldUK

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