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Kelly A. Cotter and Aurora M. Sherman

Exercise self-efficacy is a powerful predictor of physical activity behavior, which enhances health and well-being for older adults. Social relations have been proposed as influential precursors for exercise self-efficacy. In a longitudinal study of 160 older adults with osteoarthritis (76.9% women), the authors found that social support (but not social strain) significantly predicted exercise self-efficacy in a structural equation model examining cross-sectional data: χ2(178, N = 160) = 264.57, p < .01; RMSEA = .06; CFI = .92; TLI = .90. When data were examined longitudinally, however, social strain (but not social support) significantly predicted lower exercise self-efficacy 1 year later: χ2(233, N = 160) = 288.64, p < .01; RMSEA = .04; CFI = .96; TLI = .95. Results support the negativity effect, suggesting that social strain might be the more potent aspect of social relations and should be the target of interventions.

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Kelly A. Cotter and Margie E. Lachman


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. R 2 = .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.