Background: The social identity approach proposes that the more older adults identify with the social group of “older adults,” the more they will conform to what they perceive as being normative exercising for their group. However, so far, it remains unclear why older adults adhere to these norms. Objective: This study evaluated whether perceived exercise norms are associated with higher levels of autonomous motivation according to the self-determination theory and actual exercise participation. Methods: A cross-sectional survey, either by regular mail or online, was conducted among 409 older adults in Flanders (Belgium). Results: Our analyses revealed that older adults who perceived more positive older adult norms for exercising were more autonomously motivated to exercise. In explaining 24% of their exercise motivation, older adults’ perceptions of the exercise norms for older adults predicted 6% of their exercise participation. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that social identity approach and self-determination theory can be meaningfully integrated.
Johan Pelssers, Emalie Hurkmans, Jeroen Scheerder, Norbert Vanbeselaere, Steven Vos, Tim Smits and Filip Boen
Johan Pelssers, Christophe Delecluse, Joke Opdenacker, Eva Kennis, Evelien Van Roie and Filip Boen
This study evaluated “Every Step Counts!”—a 10-wk, structured walking intervention in a community-based senior organization—on promoting physical activity participation, fitness, and well-being among older adults (age ≥ 55 yr). The intervention prescribed pedometer-defined walks in weekly walking schedules. These were fitness-tailored and structured in walking load (intensity/volume) according to the principles of training progression. This intervention was offered as a social activity at meeting points of a community-based senior organization. Twenty-nine meeting points (n = 432) constituted the intervention condition. Ten meeting points (n = 148) formed the wait-list control condition. Measurements were organized at intervention start (pretest) and end (posttest). Intention-to-treat linear mixed models showed small positive intervention effects on physical activity, fitness, and aspects of well-being. These results confirm the effectiveness of structured walking interventions with systematic training progression and underscore the value of community-based senior organizations as intervention settings for older adults.