The researchers found that participants who continued to be physically active a year after baseline responses were recorded -- through engagement in leisure, occupational or home activities, such as house-cleaning or gardening -- were "fitter, had higher levels of self-efficacy and physical self-esteem, expressed more positive affect and reported, in turn, a better quality of life."
Increased physical activity over time, as indicated by results of the five-year follow-up, "was associated with greater improvements in self-esteem and affect. Enhanced affect was, in turn, associated with increases in satisfaction with life over time," the researchers noted.
"Our findings are important on several fronts," McAuley said. "First, we demonstrated that physical activity has long-term effects on important aspects of psychosocial functioning through its influences on self-efficacy, quality of life and self-esteem."
"Second, there is a growing interest in the relationship between physical activity and quality of life, especially in older adults. However, much of this work suggests a direct relationship between the two. Our work takes the approach, and the data support it, that physical activity influences more global aspects of quality of life through its influence on more proximal physical and psychological factors such as affect, self-efficacy and health status."
A related, two-year study conducted in McAuley's lab looked at the roles played by physical activity, health status and self-efficacy in determining "global quality of life," or satisfaction with life among older adults. The research focused on a different sample of 249 ol
Contact: Melissa Mitchell, News Editor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign