Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Physical activity and exercise have been shown to strongly contribute to an extended quality of life. Half of all physical declines in aging can be prevented by engaging in adequate levels of daily physical activity. Only one in four older adults over the age of 65 participates in regular physical activity. There are various factors that have been identified in this population that influence physical activity behaviors including gender, ethnicity, education, and socioeconomic status. Though important for providing baseline data on older adults, these descriptions do not fully explain why or why not this population engages in physical activity; or identifies the influences on physical activity adoption and/or maintenance. This study integrated two theoretical perspectives, self-determination theory and stages of change, to examine the motivations toward physical activity and the readiness for behavior change. Also, self-report physical activity scales (PASE) and objective fitness measures were compared. The major purpose of this study was to investigate physical activity behaviors in older adults, with specific focus on decision-making about exercise. Levels of self-regulation from self-determination theory predicted stages of change in older adults. Specifically, external regulation and identified regulation differentiated between inactive individuals, individuals who were initiating activity, and individuals who were maintaining activity. Subscales of the PASE were a better indicator of overall fitness levels. Finally, in order to capture the full experience and meaning of physical activity and exercise, a phenomenological approach across varying levels of activity and readiness was employed. Overall findings showed the importance of correctly measuring physical activity, guiding older adults through the varying levels of motivation by understanding their readiness for change, and ultimately being able to understanding the true meaning of physical activity and exercise as experienced by older adults. Suggestions for practitioners are also addressed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Melinda A. Solmon



Included in

Kinesiology Commons