The process of Adult Exercise Adherence: Self-Perceptions and Competence

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 University of Virginia
  • | 2 Nelson Physical Therapy
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What constitutes an effective exercise program for older adults remains elusive. For example, little is known regarding the role of current and future-oriented self-perceptions. Nineteen physically active male and female adults (M = 68.9 years) were interviewed, and assessments of functional ability (Rikli & Jones, 1999) and possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986) were given at baseline and 10 weeks. Hoped-for selves centered on remaining healthy and independent, while feared selves focused on avoiding dependence and negative health outcomes. Exercise was facilitated through the expertise and guidance of the staff and the positive outcomes exercisers perceived. Results support Markus, Cross, and Wurf’s (1990) model of effective performance. Intervention strategies that can help exercisers identify and develop possible selves that promote sustained exercise behavior will be discussed.

Diane E. Whaley is with the Department of Human Services at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904. E-mail: Agnes F. Schrider is with Nelson Physical Therapy, Afton, VA 22920. E-mail:

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