Exploring Feelings of Pleasure and Purpose Associated With Older People’s Activities Using Ecological Momentary Analysis: An Observational Study

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Momentary feelings of pleasure and purpose can be sources of intrinsic motivation, but momentary purpose is rarely studied. Activities, contexts, and feelings of retired/semiretired adults (n = 67, aged 50–78 years) were captured using ecological momentary assessment. Participants provided 2,065 valid responses to six daily smartphone surveys for 7 days. Physical activity was measured by waist-worn ActiGraph accelerometer. Pleasure (measured by affective happiness) and purpose outcomes were regressed on activities, context, and potential confounding variables. Interactions between activities and contexts were explored. Participants were highly active: 98.5% met physical activity guidelines. Sedentary activities were negatively associated with sense of purpose, especially when indoors. However, social sedentary activities were positively associated with feelings of happiness. Active, social outdoor activities were positively associated with both outcomes. Less sedentary participants experienced greater happiness and purpose during all their activities. Context matters: active, social, and outdoor activities seem to be more appealing to older adults.

Hancock and Downward are with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom. Sherar is with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom, and the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom.

Hancock (k.hancock@lboro.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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