Age is also considered in examining rates of adherence to physical activity requirements. LTPA participation levels differ by age and this is often also correlated with gender. Men and women become increasingly inactive as they increase in age. 36. 9% of men aged 75 yrs or older and 47. 3% of women in that same age group reported inactivity in the Pratt et al (1999) survey. Men participate in progressively more vigorous physical activity as they grow older. Women, on the other hand peak in their involvement in vigorous activity in their middle-age years and this drops progressively as they age further.
Men on the other hand have high participation levels in LTPA at two age intervals – 18-29 and 65-74 (Pratt et al. , 1999). Pratt (1999) suggests, however, that the rate of participation in vigorous activity for older men and women may be overestimated. This is because adjustments are made to survey figures for the age-related decline in cardiorespiratory capacity. Thus because older persons have a lower cardiorespiratory capacity vigorous activity for them, estimated at 50%, may be significantly different than their younger counterparts and may not be a true reflection of vigorous physical activity.
Younger age groups, on the other hand, for both males and females, displayed greater involvement in physical activity than their older counterparts (Steffen et al. , 2006, p. 1719). Henderson (1998) indicate that while, socioeconomic status, marital status, educational level, race, religion class, race, age, religious beliefs, parenthood, and sexual orientation may be examined separately in analyzing participation in physical activity, these factors may also be directed correlated with gender because these issues may influence female involvement in LTPA differently from men.
Factors impacting participation in LTPA Three important theories need to be analyzed in order to understand the varying motivations behind male and female participation in physical activity. Self development theory (SDT), social cognition theory (SCT) and social comparison theory have been put forward as a way of determining why individuals choose to or refrain from participating in physical activity. Bandura’s social-cognition theory is the more popular of the two and it is only in recent times that self-development theory has been proposed in attempting to understand physical activity tendencies.
SCT is probably the most accepted theoretical model of behavior among experts examining physical activity. This theory attempts to identify the relationship and interaction between an individual’s cognition, environmental factors and their behavior. The theory postulates that these three elements will interact with each other to result in either self-efficacy, outcome expectations or self-evaluated satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Netz & Raviv, 2004).
In self-efficacy an individual’s beliefs and expectations will be determined by how they assess their abilities to successfully perform a given behavior based on the situational demands. Self-efficacy can therefore influence decisions to participate in physical activity since evidence has shown that self-efficacy can have a positive bearing on behavior associated with physical activity. Netz and Raviv (2004) indicate that self-efficacy can actually predict whether or not an individual will participate in physical activity (Netz & Raviv, 2004).
Van Der Horst et al. (2007) found a strong positive correlation between physical activity and self-efficacy. Outcome expectations rest on the belief that an individual will achieve a desired outcome if he/she participates in a particular activity. Thus the presence of expectations forms an important motivator for behavior. Evidence indicates that outcome expectations may be important in influencing individuals’ participation in physical activity.
Outcome expectations are viewed as rewards or incentives for participating in required behavior. The incentives can be positive or negative depending on the individual’s expectations. Efficacy beliefs are also related to outcome expectations since they may help to determine or foster these expectations. Jett et al. (1998) and Resnick et al. (2000) compared the effects of outcome expectations and self efficacy on predicting involvement in physical activity and concluded that the first had a greater influence (as cited in Netz & Raviv, 2004).