This study examined longitudinally the predictive value of physical activity for a sense of meaning in life and for self-rated health and functioning. The study was part of the Evergreen Project in Jyväskylä, Finland. A representative sample (N = 198) of elderly persons born between 1904 and 1913 was interviewed in 1988 and followed up in 1996. The interviews dealt with physical, psychological, and social functioning. The interview questions selected for this study dealt with the intensity of physical activity, meaning in life, and self-rated health and functioning. Longitudinal models showed that physical activity had a positive effect on both meaning in life and self-rated health and functioning. Physical activity and meaning in life also had indirect effects on self-rated health and functioning.
The authors are with the Department of Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, FIN-40351 Jyväskylä, Finland. Takkinen is also with the Department of Psychogerontology, Catholic University of Nijmegen, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands.