British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 37 Issue 2 (May 1998), Pages 127-246

Customary physical activity and gender as precursors for late life personal disturbance (pages 189-197)

Objectives. To examine whether customary physical activity (CPA) and gender are precursors for personal disturbance in later life.

Design. The study was part of a longitudinal study, with data collected in 1985 and 1989. Measures of CPA were obtained in men and women who by 1989 had developed elevated levels of personal disturbance. A case‐control design was used: the cases were matched with controls on their 1985 levels of personal disturbances, gender and age.

Methods. Levels of personal disturbance were measured using the Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression (SAD) Scale. CPAs were assessed using five continuous and two discrete measures of physical activity, including indoor productive activity, outdoor productive activity and flexibility. The cases were 26 women and 11 men and the controls were 26 women and 11 men.

Results. Both CPA and gender were found to be precursors for later elevated personal disturbance. Specifically, indoor and outdoor productive activity and activities requiring flexibility were precursors for elevated personal disturbance. The effects of gender were even more specific: a main effect for gender was found for indoor productive activity (women doing more than men); and an interaction effect was observed between personal disturbance and gender for outdoor productive activity (the difference between depressed and non‐depressed men is greater than between depressed and non‐depressed women).

Conclusions. The study found that both CPA and gender were precursors for elevated levels of personal disturbance. However, the effects of both CPA and gender were quite specific.

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