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The psychological correlates of exercise participation among older adults : strength training and circuit weight training programs McFee, Dawn Lissel

Abstract

In this thesis, I examined the psychological correlates of weight training exercise among 123 older adults (n = 84 females; n = 39 males) who were attending a community recreation program.Towards this aim, six hypotheses were tested that were formulated within three theoretical frameworks—the Exercise and Self-Esteem Model, Social Cognitive Theory, and the Transtheoretical Model of behaviour change. Relationships among the constructs of exercise selfefficacy, physical self-esteem, psychological health, and exercise behaviour were examined. Participants completed a battery of measures (Part 1), and a subset of participants completed additional measures to assess change 10-12 weeks later (Part 2). Part One. In general although the findings were modest, the results supported the multidimensional, hierarchical structure proposed by the Exercise and Self-Esteem Model (Sonstroem & Morgan, 1989). Fourteen of the fifteen correlation coefficients between psychological health, four physical self-esteem subscales-Physical Self-Worth (domain level), Attractive Body, Physical Condition, and Physical Strength (subdomain level), and Exercise Self- Efficacy—were of the expected magnitude and direction. The combination of demographic variables (gender and age) and physical self-concepts accounted for a small but significant amount of variance (10%) in psychological health; women were associated with more positive Overall Mood. As expected, the four physical self-esteem subscales and exercise self-efficacy correctly classified 66% of exercisers in the action or maintenance stage of exercise behaviour adoption. Greater Physical Condition Self-esteem was associated with the maintenance stage. Part Two. Among a subset of the older adult exercisers (n = 67) who completed a postquestionnaire 10-12 weeks later, psychological health was not predicted by the physical selfconcepts and exercise behaviour variables. As expected, the combination of physical selfconcepts accounted for a small but statistically significant amount of variance (13%) in average duration of exercise per week. Greater Body and Strength self-esteem were associated with more exercise per week. Furthermore, the three subdomain physical self-esteem constructs (Body, Condition, and Strength) discriminated between the two stages of exercisers (action and maintenance). Ancillary open-ended program-related questions revealed factors that promote and inhibit exercise participation, and perceived benefits from weight training, consistent with the three theoretical frameworks. An unexpected finding was the high level of fitness and psychological functioning of participants. Implications for program design and future research are discussed.

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