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

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Physical activity is an essential ingredient in the recipe for successful aging, yet physical activity engagement declines with advancing age.


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.


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.


Social strain may positively influence adaptive health promoting behaviors. Potential pathways are considered.

Cotter is with the Dept of Psychology, Sacramento State University, Sacramento, CA. Lachman is with the Dept of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.

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