Although ageing people could benefit from healthy diet and physical activity to maintain health and quality of life, further understandings of the diet- and physical activity-related mechanisms that may cause changes in health and quality of life perception are necessary. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of eating attitudes, body mass and image satisfaction, and exercise dependence in the relationship between physical activity and health and quality of life perception in older individuals. Hundred and seventy-nine late middle-aged, (55-64 yrs), young-old (65-74 yrs), and old (75-84 yrs) senior athletes (n = 56), physically active (n = 58) or sedentary adults (n = 65) were submitted to anthropometric evaluations (body mass, height) and self-reported questionnaires: Body Image Dimensional Assessment, Exercise Dependence Scale, Eating Attitude Test, and Short Form Health Survey (Physical Component Summary [PCS] and Mental Component Summary [MCS] of and health and quality of life perception). Senior athletes, physically active, and sedentary participants subgroups differed (P<0.05) from each other in body mass index (BMI) and several components of body image and exercise dependence. Senior athletes showed, compared to their sedentary counterparts, further differences (P<0.05) in eating attitudes and in both PCS and MCS. Mediation analysis showed that the relationship between physical activity habit and MCS, but not PCS, was indirectly explained by a serial mediation chain composed of objective BMI and subjective body image (dis)satisfaction. Findings confirm the relevant role of physically active life habits for older individuals to perceive good physical and mental health. The novelty of the three-path mediated link between physical activity level and mental health perception suggests that the beneficial effect of a physically active lifestyle on weight control can positively impinge on the cognitive-emotional dimension of mental health by ensuring the maintenance, also at older age, of a satisfactory body image.
Physical Activity and Health Perception in Aging: Do Body Mass and Satisfaction Matter? A Three-Path Mediated Link / Condello, G; Capranica, L; Stager, J; Forte, R; Falbo, S; Di Baldassarre, A; Segura-Garcia, C; Pesce, C.. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - 11:9(2016). [10.1371/journal.pone.0160805.]
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