Physical activity and functional limitations in older adults: The influence of self-efficacy and functional performance

Sean P. Mullen, Edward McAuley, William A. Satariano, Melissa Kealey, Thomas R. Prohaska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. Data from the Healthy Aging Network (HAN) study (Prohaska, T., Eisenstein, A., Satariano, W., Hunter, R., Bayles, C., Kurtovich, E., ... Ivey, S. [2009]. Walking and the preservation of cognitive function in older populations. The Gerontologist, 49[Suppl. 1], S86-S93; and Satariano, W., Ivey, S., Kurtovich, E., Kealey, M., Hubbard, A., Bayles, C., ... Prohaska, T. [2010]. Lower-body function, neighborhoods, and walking in an older population. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38, 419-428.) were used to examine the relationships among physical activity, self-efficacy, functional performance, and limitations. Method. Interviews were conducted within homes and senior centers in 4 geographic regions across the United States. Participants were 884 older adults (M age = 74.8; 77% female; 35% minority status) who completed measures of walking behavior, way-finding self-efficacy, walking self-efficacy, functional performance, functional limitations, and demographic characteristics. Results. Path analysis within a covariance modeling framework revealed significant direct effects of walking on self-efficacy constructs, functional performance on functional limitations, and efficacy on limitations. Additionally, significant indirect effects were also found, including walking on limitations via walking self-efficacy and performance and walking self-efficacy on limitations via performance. Furthermore, we found support for invariance of the model across geographical grouping. Discussion. Our findings provide further validation for an efficacy-based model of functional limitations. Walking-related efficacy may help reduce or possibly delay the onset of functional limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-361
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume67 B
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Aging
  • Functional limitations
  • Physical activity
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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