Staying physically active in midlife depends a lot on your overall satisfaction with life or mental wellbeing a decade earlier, not just your physical health, suggests new research.
Men and women with high mental well-being at the age of 42 were more physically active at the age of 50 compared to those who got lower scores in mental well-being at age 42, said the study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.
The researchers investigated mental well-being through three dimensions: emotional, psychological and social well-being.
Emotional well-being indicates overall satisfaction with life and a tendency to have positive feelings. Psychological well-being refers to experiences of personal growth and the purpose of life. Social well-being tells about relationships with other people and the community.
The researchers found that leisure time physical activity did not predict later mental well-being or subjective health, but mental well-being predicted physical activity.
It seems that mental well-being is an important resource for maintaining a physically active lifestyle in midlife, said Tiia Kekalainen from University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. Walking was related to emotional well-being, rambling in nature to social well-being and endurance training to subjective health, the study said.