This study examined the relationship between physical activity (PA) and mental health among older adults as measured by objective and subjective PA-assessment instruments. Pedometers (PED), accelerometers (ACC), and the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) were administered to measure 1 week of PA among 84 adults age 55–87 (mean = 71) years. General mental health was measured using the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) and the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWL). Linear regressions revealed that PA estimated by PED significantly predicted 18.1%, 8.3%, and 12.3% of variance in SWL and positive and negative affect, respectively, whereas PA estimated by the PASE did not predict any mental health variables. Results from ACC data were mixed. Hotelling–William tests between correlation coefficients revealed that the relationship between PED and SWL was significantly stronger than the relationship between PASE and SWL. Relationships between PA and mental health might depend on the PA measure used.
Parker is with the Dept. of Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin. Strath and Swartz are with the Dept. of Human Movement Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201.