Older U.S. Adult Physical Activity

Published: 13-07-2020| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/nvy6hpy5nk.2
Christian Preissner,
Navin Kaushal,
Kathleen Charles,
Bärbel Knäuper


To understand the effects of barriers and facilitators of physical activity (PA) in older adults, U.S. participants (N = 667, age range 65-92) were surveyed using online research panels. The importance of fear of falling (FoF) was investigated among other previously identified determinants of PA behaviour. We hypothesised gender and health status to be linked to both threat appraisal (perceived vulnerability and severity) and coping appraisal (self-efficacy and response efficacy) constructs of Protection Motivation Theory. In turn, we expected those components to predict FoF, autonomous motivation, and the intention to be physically active. Further, we expected the latter to be a direct predictor of a change in PA behaviour, with the other constructs being indirect predictors of behaviour. Of the present sample, 19.3% indicated high FoF. Higher perceived vulnerability to falling was related to higher FoF and more perceived severity as well as worse physical health, PA-related self-efficacy, and lower PA-related response efficacy. Further, coping appraisal, intention, and PA behaviour significantly correlated with autonomous motivation to engage in PA. Using structural equation modelling, we found that self-efficacy and response efficacy have a stronger predictive role in older adults’ intention than FoF. The following measures were utilised: • Physical activity - Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE; Washburn et al., 1993). • Intention - ‘It is likely that I will be regularly physically active.’, ‘I intend to be regularly physically active.’, and ‘I expect to be regularly physically active.’ (Ajzen, 1991; Arnautovska et al., 2017). • Autonomous Motivation - Self-Regulation Questionnaire (Ryan & Connell, 1989). Results were scored in accordance with the Relative Autonomy Index (RAI). • Fear of Falling - Short Falls Efficacy Scale – International (FES-Ia) was used (Kempen et al., 2007). Full scores were utilised in addition to three distinct FoF groups based on cut-off points by Delbaere et al. (2010). • Perceived Severity - ‘Experiencing a fall would be a very bad thing to happen to me’, adapted from Plotnikoff and Higginbotham (2002). • Perceived Vulnerability - ‘My chances of falling are small’, adapted from Plotnikoff and Higginbotham (2002). • Self-Efficacy - Nine items with an 11-point Likert-type rating scale based on Resnick et al. (2000). • Response Efficacy - Four items adapted for falling from Plotnikoff and Higginbotham (2002). • Physical Health Status: Physical Component Summary scale (PCS) of the 12-item Short Form Health Survey (Ware et al., 1996).