Self-regulatory processes and exercise adherence in older adults: Executive function and self-efficacy effects

Edward McAuley, Sean P. Mullen, Amanda N. Szabo, Siobhan M. White, Thomas R. Wójcicki, Emily L. Mailey, Neha P. Gothe, Erin A. Olson, Michelle Voss, Kirk Erickson, Ruchika Prakash, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Self-efficacy and the use of self-regulatory strategies are consistently associated with physical activity behavior. Similarly, behavioral inhibition and cognitive resource allocationindices of executive control functionhave also been associated with this health behavior. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the hypothesis that self-efficacy mediates the relationship between self-regulatory processes, such as executive function, and sustained exercise behavior. Methods: Older adults (N=177, mean age=66.44 years) completed measures of executive function, self-reported use of self-regulatory strategies, and self-efficacy prior to and during the first month of a 12-month exercise intervention. Percentage of exercise classes attended over the following 11 months was used to represent adherence. Data were collected from 2007 to 2010 and analyzed in 20102011. Structural equation models were tested examining the effect of executive function and strategy use on adherence via efficacy. Results: As hypothesized, results showed significant direct effects of two elements of executive function and of strategy use on self-efficacy and of efficacy on adherence. In addition, there were significant indirect effects of strategy use and executive function on adherence via self-efficacy. Conclusions: Higher levels of executive function and use of self-regulatory strategies at the start of an exercise program enhance beliefs in exercise capabilities, which in turn leads to greater adherence. Trial registration number: This study is registered in (NCT 00438347).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-290
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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