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Predicting Relations Among Life Goals, Physical Activity, Health, and Well-Being in Elderly Adults: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Healthy Aging

Abstract

Considerable research in aging has dealt with elderly people’s health, the main purposes of which are to prevent chronic diseases and increase functional ability. However, psychological well-being is also important for the elderly, so it is crucial to identify psychological factors that would not only help manage health problems in these individuals but could also increase their psychological wellness. Within self-determination theory (SDT: Deci and Ryan in Psychol Inq 11:227–268, 2000; Ryan and Deci in Self-determination theory: basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. Guilford Publications, New York, NY, 2017), individuals’ well-being is said to be facilitated when satisfaction of their basic psychological needs (viz. autonomy, competence and relatedness) is supported. This support can be provided in various ways which includes encouraging them to pursue goal contents that are more intrinsic (e.g., community contributions and healthy lifestyles) than extrinsic (e.g., wealth and fame). This chapter compares elderly persons’ intrinsic versus extrinsic life goals and their satisfaction versus frustration of basic psychological needs, as these variables relate to health-relevant physical-activity behaviors, as well as physical and psychological well-being. A key hypothesis is that placing importance on intrinsic goals will relate positively to health and well-being via the mediating role of basic psychological needs satisfaction; whereas, placing importance on extrinsic goals will relate to ill-being via the mediating role of basic psychological needs frustration. Furthermore, basic psychological needs satisfaction will enhance intrinsic goals and promote healthy behaviors, whereas basic psychological needs frustration will promote extrinsic goals and diminish healthy behaviors.

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Fig. 4.1

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Behzadnia, B., Deci, E.L., DeHaan, C.R. (2020). Predicting Relations Among Life Goals, Physical Activity, Health, and Well-Being in Elderly Adults: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Healthy Aging. In: Ng, B., Ho, G. (eds) Self-Determination Theory and Healthy Aging. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-6968-5_4

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