Exploring the happiness and sense of purpose associated with older peoples' activities using ecological momentary analysis: an observational study

Karen E HancockLauren B Sherar


Background Older people have more leisure time, but many are physically inactive. Momentary feelings of pleasure or happiness and sense of purpose can be sources of intrinsic motivation. This study’s objective was to investigate how the type (sedentary, active) and context (social and environmental) of older peoples’ activities relate to momentary feelings of happiness and purpose. MethodsDetails of activities, contexts and feelings of retired or semi-retired adults (n=67, aged 50-78y) were captured over 7 days using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) via a smart phone app. Participants were prompted on their smart phone six times at random per day, resulting in 2,065 valid prompts. They wore an Actigraph accelerometer on the waist for 7 days to measure physical activity. Happiness and sense of purpose outcome variables were regressed on activities, context and potential confounding variables (e.g. age, gender, physical activity). Regression standard errors were clustered on participants to account for the hierarchically structured data. Interactions between activities and contexts were explored.ResultsParticipants were highly active: 98.5% met physical activity guidelines. Sedentary activities were negatively associated wit...Continue Reading

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