Maintaining Healthy Behavior: a Prospective Study of Psychological Well-Being and Physical Activity
Although higher psychological well-being has been linked with a range of positive biological processes and health outcomes, the prospective association between psychological well-being and physical activity among older adults has been understudied.
We tested whether higher baseline psychological well-being predicted higher levels of physical activity over time.
Prospective data were from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, a nationally representative sample of English adults over the age of 50. Our sample included 9986 adults who were assessed up to six times across an average of 11 years.
After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, each standard deviation increase in baseline psychological well-being was associated with higher median physical activity in linear regression models that examined physical activity across all six waves (β = 0.20; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.18–0.21) and in linear mixed effect models that examined repeated measures of physical activity over the entire follow-up period (β = 0.20; 95% CI 0.19–0.21). Further, higher baseline psychological well-being was associated with a slower rate of decline in physical activity among people who were active at baseline (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.79, 95% CI 0.76–0.82) and increasing physical activity among people who were inactive at baseline (HR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.22–1.35). Findings were maintained after adjusting for baseline health status and depression.
Psychological well-being was independently associated with attaining and maintaining higher physical activity levels over 11 years, suggesting that it may be a valuable target for interventions aimed at helping older adults acquire more physical activity.