Older adults’ physically-active identity: Relationships between social cognitions, physical activity and satisfaction with life

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Objectives:Identity and Social Cognitive Theories were used to study associations between physical activity (PA) identity, social cognitions (self-regulatory efficacy, proximal intentions), PA, and satisfaction with life among older adults (M age = 79.5).Methods:Eighty-four moderately active older adults completed measures of PA identity, self-regulatory efficacy, proximal intentions, past PA and satisfaction with life. Past PA was hypothesized to relate to PA identity. PA identity and self-regulatory efficacy were hypothesized predictors of proximal PA intentions and satisfaction with life. Differences between identity groups of different strength on PA, social cognitions and satisfaction with life were also explored.Results:Regressions revealed the following: Past PA was a significant predictor of PA identity (Model adj. R2 = .21; p < .001). Identity and self-regulatory efficacy were significant predictors of strength of proximal PA intentions (Model adj. R2 = .28; p < .001) and satisfaction with life (Model adj. R2 = .21; p < .001). A one-way MANOVA comparing PA identity groups on PA, social cognitions and satisfaction with life was significant (p < .001). Older adults with a strong PA identity reported more PA, stronger self-regulatory efficacy, proximal intentions, and satisfaction with life than their less strong identity counterparts.Conclusion:Findings support the compatible use of Identity and Social Cognitive Theories in exploring relationships between PA identity for older adults and social cognitions, PA and satisfaction with life. Understanding PA identity for older adults and its relationship to self-regulatory beliefs may generate productive research directions for studying the PA of this underserved population.

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