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Ann-Kristin Beyer, Maja Wiest and Susanne Wurm

Self-perceptions of aging (SPA) are a resource in later life. As aging is accompanied with perceptions of the finitude of life, it is assumed that perceived residual lifetime may play a role in the relationship between SPA and health behavior. Among older adults aged 65 years and older, the present study tested whether the relationships between gain- and loss-related SPA and two kinds of physical activity are moderated by perceived residual lifetime. Data were based on 2.367 participants over a 3-year period. Participants with less gain-related SPA were less likely to walk on a regular basis; however, a longer residual lifetime compensated for this negative effect. In addition, participants did sports more often if they not only held less loss-related SPA but also perceived a longer residual lifetime. These results emphasize the importance of perceived residual lifetime in health promotion interventions targeting physical activity in older adults.

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Lisa M. Warner, Jochen P. Ziegelmann, Benjamin Schüz, Susanne Wurm and Ralf Schwarzer

The purpose of the current study was to examine whether the effects of social support on physical exercise in older adults depend on individual perceptions of self-efficacy. Three hundred nine older German adults (age 65–85) were assessed at 3 points in time (3 months apart). In hierarchical-regression analyses, support received from friends and exercise self-efficacy were specified as predictors of exercise frequency while baseline exercise, sex, age, and physical functioning were controlled for. Besides main effects of self-efficacy and social support, an interaction between social support and self-efficacy emerged. People with low self-efficacy were less likely to be active in spite of having social support. People with low support were less likely to be active even if they were high in self-efficacy. This points to the importance of both social support and self-efficacy and implies that these resources could be targets of interventions to increase older adults’ exercise.