The purpose of this research was to examine older adults' perceptions of physical fitness and exercise This qualitative study was divided into four stages as described by Berg (1989) identification of the concept of the study, development of the interview guide, collection of data, and data analysis Twenty-three older adults, aged 63–82 years (9 females, 14 males), participated in the interviews Transcripts were analysed using content analysis Three major themes emerged as the participants viewed physical fitness in terms of functional independence (‘being able to do’), holism (‘mmd-body works together’), and age reference (‘for people my age’) Nine elements which impeded or enhanced physical activity were identified Implications for education, research and practice are discussed