Bidirectional Associations Between Personality and Physical Activity in Adulthood

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Abstract

Objective: Personality and physical activity are important for critical life outcomes. This study tested the hypothesis that there is a bidirectional association between personality and physical activity. Method: A nationally representative sample of 10,227 Australian adults (5,422 women; 4,805 men) completed self-report measures of physical activity and personality in 2006 (Time 1), 2010 (Time 2), and 2014 (Time 3). A latent change score modeling approach was used to test bidirectional associations, controlling for age, sex, education, physical health, and mental health. Results: Conscientiousness and openness predicted subsequent increases in physical activity, whereas agreeableness predicted subsequent decreases in physical activity. Physical activity was associated with increases in openness (and conscientiousness for women) at Time 1–Time 2, but was unrelated to change in personality between Time 2–Time 3. In addition, there was some evidence that temporal associations between personality and physical activity were moderated by participant age. Conclusions: These findings indicate that personality is important for change in physical activity, but physical activity is relatively unimportant for change in personality.

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