WALKING AS A MEDIATOR OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF SOCIAL SUPPORT WITH VITALITY
AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS IN OLDER ADULTS
Carrapatoso S.1, Cardon G.2, Van Dick D.2, Mota J.1, Carvalho J.1, Gheysen F.2
1Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Portugal, 2Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
Objectives. This study examined the mediating effect of walking on the relationship of social support with vitality and psychological distress.
Methods. Data from a sample of 2.859 older adults (1.057 men and 1.802 women, aged between 65 and 100 years old) which participated in the Belgian Health Survey of 2008 were used. The older adults completed the SF-36 vitality scale, the Global Health Questionnaire, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire and a questionnaire on socio-demographic and social support attributes. The mediation role of walking on the association of social support with vitality and psychological distress was calculated using the MacKinnon product-of-coefficients.
Results. All social support variables were positively associated with vitality and negatively associated with psychological distress. Walking mediated the associations of appreciation of social contacts (3 %), frequency of social contacts (8 %), participation in group activities (19 %), closeness from family and friends (8 %), concern and interest from people around (6 %) with vitality. Walking also mediated 33 % of the association between participation in group activities and psychological distress.
Conclusions. The main findings of the current study suggest that participation in group activities in later life is beneficial to improve vitality and reduce psychological distress of the older adults, with walking being a strong mediator of this relationship.