Context: Participation in regular physical activity is recognized as one of the most important health behaviors associated with the prevention of chronic disease and the promotion of health and well-being among the elderly. Although a number of cross-sectional studies have reported predictors of physical activity participation, few studies have assessed changes in intervention-related mediators associated with physical activity adherence in the elderly.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the relative abilities of cognitive mediating variables (i.e., self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectancies/realizations) versus a social mediating variable (i.e., exercise-related social support) to examine mediators of a telephone-based, exercise-counseling intervention on exercise adherence during months 7 to 12 of an exercise intervention.
Method: Participants were 103 community-dwelling, healthy, sedentary, older adults (67 women and 36 men). Self-efficacy for exercise, outcome expectancies/realizations, and social support for exercise were assessed at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Participants received telephone-based exercise counseling to promote exercise adherence during the course of two 12-month exercise programs (i.e., aerobic/strength or flexibility exercises).
Results: Changes in cognitive mediators (i.e., self-efficacy and fitness outcome realizations) were associated with 7- to 12-month exercise adherence while exercise-related social support was not.
Conclusion: Attention should be given to increasing confidence in the elderly to overcome barriers to exercise and achieve relevant fitness outcomes in exercise programs.