Acting one's age in physical exercise : do perceived age norms explain autonomous motivation among older adults?

Johan Pelssers, Emilie Hurkmans, Jeroen Scheerder, Norbert Vanbeselaere, S.B. Vos, Tim Smits, Filip Boen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The social identity approach proposes that the more older adults identify with the social group of “older adults,” the more they will conform to what they perceive as being normative exercising for their group. However, so far, it remains unclear why older adults adhere to these norms. Objective: This study evaluated whether perceived exercise norms are associated with higher levels of autonomous motivation according to the self-determination theory and actual exercise participation. Methods: A cross-sectional survey, either by regular mail or online, was conducted among 409 older adults in Flanders (Belgium). Results: Our analyses revealed that older adults who perceived more positive older adult norms for exercising were more autonomously motivated to exercise. In explaining 24% of their exercise motivation, older adults’ perceptions of the exercise norms for older adults predicted 6% of their exercise participation. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that social identity approach and self-determination theory can be meaningfully integrated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)521-529
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Aging and Physical Activity
    Issue number4
    Early online date2017
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


    • physical activity
    • self-determination theory
    • Seniors
    • survey
    • social identity approach
    • seniors
    • Cross-Sectional Studies
    • Exercise/psychology
    • Humans
    • Middle Aged
    • Male
    • Personal Autonomy
    • Belgium
    • Motivation
    • Aging
    • Female
    • Surveys and Questionnaires
    • Aged


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