Investigating the Psychosocial Determinants of Physical Activity in Older Adults: A Qualitative Approach

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Objective: Despite the benefits of physical activity (PA), only one-third of older adults meet the recommended levels. The present study focused on psychosocial determinants of PA following retirement. Social cognitive theory (SCT) was used to better understand pre- and post-retirement adults’ thoughts about PA, the reasons why some individuals are more active than others, and how PA is incorporated into daily life after retirement. Design: Seven focus groups of older adults (N = 37, M = 64, SD = 5.20; males = 20) representing a range of PA levels and retirement length participated in one of seven focus groups. Results: Aligned with SCT, self-efficacy beliefs along with perceptions about barriers and benefits of PA were among the major determinants of PA. Findings highlighted the importance of social support, positive outcome expectations and self-regulatory strategies as motivators. The lack of structure in retirement was a hindrance to incorporating PA into daily routine but, when incorporated, PA provided a sense of purpose in the lives of retired individuals. Conclusion: It is important to understand the meaning of retirement as a life transition and how it affects beliefs about PA to inform SCT-based health promotion interventions targeting individuals in retirement age.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology & Health
Early online date10 Mar 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2016


  • social cognitive theory
  • self-efficacy
  • barriers
  • enablers
  • retirement


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