Stability of Physical Activity Across the Lifespan

Published In: Journal of Health Psychology, v. 13, no. 8, Nov. 2008, p. 1092-1104

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by Howard S. Friedman, Leslie R. Martin, Joan S. Tucker, Michael H. Criqui, Margaret L. Kern, Chandra A. Reynolds

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Physical activity is associated with various health-relevant psychosocial and physiological processes, but activity stability across extended time periods is inadequately understood. This lifespan longitudinal cohort study examined activity levels of 723 males and 554 females. Associations across time were computed and structural equation modeling compared a one factor model and a simplex model. Results showed activity levels are somewhat stable from childhood through middle and late adulthood. Further, a simplex model provided a better fit than a one factor model. Successful models and interventions to improve health will likely require a more nuanced, pattern-sensitive understanding of physical activity across time.

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