Background: Existing measures fail to capture the perceived benefits attributed to exercise participation by older adults themselves. Noticeable improvements in sleep, energy level, bodily aches and pains, constipation, and other psychophysical aspects of "feeling good" may represent ongoing sources of motivation for continued participation. The Vitality Plus Scale (VPS) was developed to measure these potential health-related benefits of exercising.
Methods: The 10-item VPS was developed using an inductive approach, in collaboration with regularly exercising older adults and their instructors. Multiple samples of exercises and nonexercisers ranging in age from 40 to 94 were used to examine the reliability and validity of the new scale.
Results: The VPS showed good internal consistency and test-retest reliability over one week. Scores were able to discriminate on the basis of various indicators of health status and self-reported level of physical activity, and were related to two measures of functional mobility. Convergence was found with several subscales of the SF-36, whereas low correlations emerged with a measure of episode-specific sensations. Responsiveness to change was found with various types of exercise for individuals with low to moderate scores prior to participation.
Conclusions: Improvements in sleep, energy level, mood, and generally feeling good appear to be the most noticeable benefits of exercising for many adults. These associations are reinforced by sustained exercise participation. Capturing these interrelated psychophysical constructs in a single, short measure will enable exercise researchers and instructors to measure incremental improvements previously reported only anecdotally.