Daily Meaning Salience and Physical Activity in Previously Inactive Exercise Initiates

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Abstract

Objective: Individuals living with more experienced meaning, or meaning salience, may be more likely to engage in health behaviors including physical activity. This study examined daily meaning salience and physical activity in previously inactive exercise initiates. Method: Inactive adults (N = 80, 78% female, Mage = 43 years, SD = 11 years) intending to increase physical activity participated in a daily diary study. At baseline, participants completed self-report questionnaires of demographics, global meaning and purpose, depressive symptoms, and motivation. Fitness center attendance was extracted from the member database. Participants self-reported meaning salience, positive mood, negative mood, and physical activity (duration in minutes; intensity in ratings of perceived exertion) daily for the first 28 days. Multilevel and multiple regression analyses were used. Results: Multilevel models revealed that controlling for demographics, mood, and motivation, for every standard deviation increase in meaning salience, participants were 44% more likely to visit the fitness center, odds ratio (OR) = 1.44, 95% CI [1.24,1.68], p < .001. Further, increases in meaning salience above average were positively related to physical activity duration, β = .19, p < .001, and intensity, β = .13, p < .001. Global meaning and purpose were not significantly related to physical activity duration, physical activity intensity, or fitness center visits over the 28 days. Conclusions: Results suggest that increased meaning salience, but not global meaning or purpose, is associated with physical activity participation in previously inactive exercise initiates, and may be a proximal predictor of physical activity behavior. Future research should use ecological momentary assessment (EMA) designs to examine the relationship within days and over longer intervals.

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