, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 311-318

Correlates of functional fitness in older adults

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Background: Self-efficacy has been shown to be both an antecedent and determinant of behaviors such as physical activity and may explain variance in the performance of functional tasks among older adults.Purpose: The objectives of the current study were: first, to identify potential latent factors of functional fitness (i.e., the ability to perform activities of daily living) among older adults; and second, to determine the extent to which self-efficacy contributed to the variance in functional fitness over and above other known correlates.Methods: Older adults (n = 190, M age = 69.4 years) completed a functional fitness test battery, maximal graded exercise test, and demographics and self-efficacy questionnaires.Results: Structural equation modeling supported two latent factors of functional fitness representing “Flexibility” and “Physical Power.” Further analyses indicated sex as the sole significant correlate of Flexibility. Greater Physical Power was associated with being male, younger, and having higher self-efficacy.Conclusions: These results support the role of self-efficacy as a correlate of performance on functional tasks. Targeting flexibility and physical power to improve functional fitness among older men and women, respectively, warrants examination.

This study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging (#AG-12113, #AG-18008) and the Institute for the Study of Aging (#2000035).