The meaning of physical activity for older adults with leprosy: A life story inside the wall

I. Ju Chen, Shun Ping Cheng*, Shuh Jen Sheu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: This study was conducted to reveal the meaning of physical activity for older adults with leprosy who had previously experienced isolation and discrimination, and to motivate leprosy clients to participate in physical activity and keep an active lifestyle. Method: A qualitative method with content analysis was used to understand the meaning of physical activity in older leprosy patients who had experienced isolation. Results: After interviewing 23 subjects, four themes and nine categories emerged. The four themes were: physical activity is a natural component of life, physical activity is beneficial to one's body and mind, difficulty with physical activity is a degrading reminder of leprosy, and physical activity is the acceptance of one's life circumstances. This article discusses how subjects shaped their lives by communicating through their deformed bodies. This study found that the perspective about their lives became more positive as the subjects aged. Conclusion: Understanding the complicated experiences of leprosy patients, which combine physical, psychological, and social stresses, as well as overcoming spaceand time-related limitations, is the primary contribution of this study. This investigation identified a process of rebirth in the participants, and personal transformation might be involved in this rebirth process. Programme designs are suggested with incentives for community residents to interact with aged leprosy residents within a natural social atmosphere, applying narrative gerontology techniques and integrating the reflection on the meaning of physical activity into existing rehabilitation programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-409
Number of pages11
JournalLeprosy Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Aged
  • Isolation
  • Leprosy
  • Physical activity
  • Qualitative study


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