Physical Activity Enhances Long-Term Quality of Life in Older Adults: Efficacy, Esteem, and Affective Influences

Ann Behav Med. 2005 Oct;30(2):138-45. doi: 10.1207/s15324796abm3002_6.


Background: Physical activity has been effective in enhancing quality of life (QOL) of older adults over relatively short periods of time. However, little is known about the long-term effects of physical activity and even less about the possible mediators of this relationship.

Purpose: We examined the mediating effects of psychological variables on the relationship between physical activity and global QOL (satisfaction with life) in older adults over a 4-year period.

Methods: Participants (N = 174, M age = 66.7 years) completed a battery of psychosocial measures at 1 and 5 years following enrollment in a 6-month randomized controlled exercise trial.

Results: Panel analysis conducted within a covariance modeling framework indicated that physical activity was related to self-efficacy, physical self-esteem, and positive affect at 1 year, and in turn, greater levels of self-efficacy and positive affect were associated with higher levels of QOL. Analyses indicated that changes in physical activity over the 4-year period were related to increases in physical self-esteem and positive affect, but only positive affect directly influenced improvements in QOL.

Conclusions: The findings lend support to the position that physical activity effects on QOL are in part mediated by intermediate psychological outcomes and that physical activity can have long-term effects on well-being.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motor Activity
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reference Values
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Efficacy*