Do Physical Activity Beliefs Differ by Age and Gender?

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Victoria
  • 2 Dalhousie University
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Age and gender are consistently related to physical activity (PA), yet theoretical explanation for these associations is scant. The present study compared the mean values and correlations of a population sample, divided by gender and age group, with respect to theory of planned behavior beliefs (behavioral, normative, and control) and PA. Participants were a sample (N = 6,739) of adults (M age = 49.65, SD = 16.04) who completed measures of social and health demographics, theory of planned behavior beliefs, and self-reported PA. Mean analyses identi-fed greater perceived control over PA for seniors than for young and middle-aged adults (η2 > .025). Belief–behavior correlations, however, were not different across age and gender in 24 of 26 tests (q < .19). Thus, PA beliefs are invariant across age and gender with the exception of mean levels of perceived control, which are lower among younger adults than older adults. Factors such as early parenthood and career demands were considered the likely reasons for differences. Overall, the evidence suggests that adapting theoretical models for specific age groups or based on gender may not be necessary.

Rhodes is with the Behavioural Medicine Laboratory, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC; Blanchard is with the Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS; and Blacklock is with Exercise Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.