Social influence and physical activity in older females: Does activity preference matter?


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Abstract

Background:Older adults appear to have different activity preferences (prefer to be active alone or with others, or show no preference). As the activity of older females is often associated with social influences (i.e., how others influence the behavior or thoughts of another), understanding how activity preference might interact with social influences becomes important.Objectives:This study explored whether activity preferences would moderate the social influence – physical activity relationship in older females.Methods:The sample for this study was 102 older females with the majority (87%) classified as ‘maintainers’. Using a cross-sectional approach, participants completed questionnaires on social influences by channel (family, friends, healthcare workers) and type (modeling, compliance, conformity, obedience), activity preferences, and physical activity.Results:MANOVA and follow-up results revealed that friends-modeling (F (2, 99) = 8.15, p < .01) and friends-compliance/conformity (F (2, 99) = 9.82, p < .01) were greater in individuals who preferred to be active with others than those who preferred to be active alone. Results from a hierarchical multiple regression examining activity preferences as a moderator were significant (R2change = .11). For those who preferred to be active with others, friends-modeling was positively related to activity (b = 1.28). For individuals with no activity preference, activity was positively related to friends-compliance/conformity (b = 1.38) and negatively related to friends-modeling (b = −1.56).Conclusion:Results provide preliminary evidence that activity preferences appear to moderate the relationship between the influence of friends and activity in older females, especially for those who are activity maintainers.

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