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Original Research

No Strain, No Gain: Psychosocial Predictors of Physical Activity Across the Adult Lifespan

584 – 594

Background: Physical activity is an essential ingredient in the recipe for successful aging, yet physical activity engagement declines with advancing age. Methods: In a national sample of 3848 participants aged 32 to 84 (55% women), we examined potential psychosocial moderators of the relationship between age and physical activity. Results: In a cross-sectional hierarchical multiple regression analysis [Adj. R2 = .14, F(10, 3546) = 57.10, P < .001] we found that participants reporting higher education (β = .08), higher social support (β = .05), higher social strain (β = .12), and a higher sense of control (β = .09) were significantly more physically active. Furthermore, 2 significant interactions showed that higher education and higher social strain were associated with higher physical activity in older adulthood, suggesting that social strain and education may protect against age-related declines in physical activity. Conclusions: Social strain may positively influence adaptive health promoting behaviors. Potential pathways are considered.

Keywords: aging, social support, social strain, control beliefs, education

Authors: Kelly A. Cotter, Margie E. Lachman

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