Walking as a Mediator of the Relationship of Social Support With Vitality and Psychological Distress in Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study examined the mediating effect of walking on the relationship of social support with vitality and psychological distress. Data from a sample of 2,859 older adults were used. The older adults completed the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey vitality scale, the Global Health Questionnaire, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and a social support attributes questionnaire. All social support variables were positively associated with vitality and negatively associated with psychological distress. Walking mediated the associations of appreciation for (3%) and frequency of (8%) social contacts, participation in group activities (19%), closeness from family and friends (8%), and concern from people around (6%) with vitality. Walking also mediated 33% of the association between participation in group activities and psychological distress. The main findings of this study suggest that participation in group activities, as part of social support, in later life is beneficial to improve older adults’ vitality and reduces psychological distress, with walking being a strong mediator of these relationships.

Carrapatoso and Carvalho are with the Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure (CIAFEL), Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Cardon, Van Dyck, and Gheysen are with the Dept. of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Address author correspondence to Susana Carrapatoso at scarrapatoso@gmail.com.
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