Investigating the psychosocial determinants of physical activity in older adults: a qualitative approach

Maria-Christina Kosteli, Sarah Williams, Jennifer Cumming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
215 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Despite the benefits of physical activity (PA), only one third of older adults meet the recommended levels. The present study focussed 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: 7 focus groups of older adults (N = 37, Mage = 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
Pages (from-to)730-749
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number6
Early online date10 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating the psychosocial determinants of physical activity in older adults: a qualitative approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this