Title: The Role of Self-regulation Influencing the Physical Activity of Older Adults
Purpose and Background: Falls are detrimental to the older adult population in the United States. Despite the evidence that physical activity can reduce falls and their negative effects, the majority of older adults are not participating. To address this gap, motivational content, specifically interpersonal behavior change strategies, were integrated into an evidenced-based physical activity protocol. Preliminary study results showed that older adults who received this intervention, compared to those who did not, significantly increased their physical activity. However, it remains unclear why the intervention worked. Thus, the purpose of this study was to assess whether or not this intervention elicited increased self-regulation, a motivational construct targeted by the intervention, and in turn, whether or not self-regulation mediated intervention effects on physical activity.
Conceptual Model: The conceptual model used in this secondary analysis was developed by Siobhan McMahon (2012) and represents the focus of this paper: the relationship between the intervention, the targeted motivational construct—self-regulation—, and physical activity. This model was based on the Wellness Motivation Theory (WMT), which predicts that increases in social contextual resources and behavioral change processes, including self-regulation, lead to increases in healthy behaviors, such as physical activity.
Methods: This mixed-methods secondary analysis drew data from a parent study which included community-dwelling older adults from the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro areas (n=102, 75% female). Data used in this secondary analysis is from the group of participants in this study that received an intervention comprised of an evidence-based physical activity protocol and interpersonal behavior change strategies (e.g. social comparison, social support). The
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interpersonal strategies targeted several motivational constructs, including self-regulation. The focus of this paper is the assessment of how well the intervention elicited self-regulation strategies among participants and whether self-regulation mediated intervention effects on physical activity. Additionally, 25 post-intervention interviews were analyzed to explore participants’ perspectives regarding the intervention and if/how they used those strategies to self-regulate increased physical activity.
Results: Participants who received this intervention, compared to those who did not, increased their self-regulation and their physical activity immediately post-intervention. Additionally, participants identified self-monitoring and maintaining a positive mental mindset as strategies that increased their motivation to engage in physical activity.
Conclusions: Overall, quantitative and qualitative results indicated that self-regulation could play a role in the initiation of increased physical activity in community-dwelling older adults. This intervention increased self-regulation through facilitated conversations between participants. These interpersonal strategies are different from traditional physical activity interventions among younger adults that typically involve more intrapersonally-oriented strategies, such as goal setting, to elicit increases in self-regulation and physical activity. The participants indicated that self-monitoring and positivity play a role in self-regulation. Both quantitative and qualitative findings highlight the need for additional research that assesses and explores the motivational and psychosocial mechanisms of change in older adults’ physical activity. In conclusion, results of this secondary analysis were consistent with the findings in the literature that support the statement that self-regulation may increase motivation for physical activity in general populations, including older adults. However, the results suggest that self-regulation may by elicited differently in older adults than younger populations.
The Role of Self-Regulation Influencing the Physical Activity of Older Adults.
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