Does age modify the association between coping planning and physical activity behavior among adults?


According to self-regulation theories, coping planning (CP) is useful for helping individuals deal with anticipated barriers to goal attainment. However, findings on the association between CP and physical activity (PA) have been inconsistent. It is possible that the CP-PA association varies with age as aging is sometimes associated with a decline in executive functions. The purpose of this study was to test the moderating effect of age on the CP-PA association in adults. Two independent samples (n1=100; n2=120) of adult (18-64 years) members of a fitness center were included. Participants (mean [SD] age = 45.9 [11.1] years) completed a questionnaire measuring CP (α = 0.70). Scores were reflected and a logarithmic transformation was applied given that CP was negatively skewed. PA was assessed using the mean weekly number of mandatory check-in records retrieved from the fitness center's electronic database over a 12-week or 18-week period in the first and second samples, respectively. Multilevel linear modeling revealed age moderated the CP-PA association (p=0.02). The association was positive and stronger for younger adults (at the mean – 1 SD; BCP = - 1.25) compared to older adults (at the mean + 1 SD; BCP = 0.51). Predicted PA frequencies (times/week) were 2.35 and 1.28 for the highest and lowest levels of CP for younger adults, whereas they were 1.75 and 2.18 for older adults. The CP-PA association appears to be heightened in younger adults, suggesting CP could be a potential target for interventions aimed at promoting PA among younger adults.

Acknowledgments: Steve Amireault was supported by the Training Program in Obesity of the Merck Frosst-Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Research Chair on Obesity.