The link between Fullerton Fitness Test and psychological well being in older adults
Physical fitness and functioning are related to better mental health in older age. However, which fitness components (body composition, strength, flexibility, coordination, and endurance) are more closely related to psychological well-being (PWB) is unclear. This research examined how body mass index (BMI) and six indices of functional fitness (i.e., lower and upper body strength, lower and upper body flexibility, coordination [based on agility and balance], and aerobic endurance) relate to five psychological measures that could mirror PWB (i.e., resilience, mental well-being, optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness). Thirty-nine older adults (60-94 years; two-thirds female) were examined with the Fullerton Functional Fitness Test (FFFT) after completing five psychometric instruments. Data were analyzed with ordinary least squares regression and then with elastic net regression, calculating the Lindeman, Merenda, and Gold (LMG) indices of the relative importance of the six FFFT components separately for the five psychological measures. Results revealed that BMI, upper body strength, and upper body flexibility were the least significant predictors of PWB. In contrast, lower body flexibility emerged as the most significant predictor, while endurance and, to a lesser extent, coordination were also predictors in some of the PWB measures. These findings should stimulate research on the mechanism connecting lower body flexibility with PWB. Further, apart from their novelty, the findings could be valuable in designing physical fitness programs targeting mental and physical health for older people.
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