Different people exercise for different reasons. Older persons may have different priorities than younger ones and thus are motivated to exercise by different factors. Given the changing demographics with an increasing proportion of older adults in the general population, it is important that we do not overlook this cohort when designing health promotion and illness prevention programs. Motivating factors for physical activity were recorded by participants (N = 916) in the Northern Ireland Health and Activity Survey (1994) using an extensive computerized interview. In 10 of the 13 motivating factors for exercise studied, there were significant differences between age groups on the importance of personal goals and the perceived efficacy of exercise in achieving these goals. This has implications for exercise promotion programs.
The authors are with the Dept. of Epidemiology and Public Health, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Mulhouse Bldg, Institute of Clinical Science, Grosvenor Rd, Belfast BT12 6BJ, Northern Ireland.