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Processes of identity development and behaviour change in later life: exploring self-talk during physical activity uptake
Ageing and Society, Pages: 1 - 19
Swansea University Author: Joanne Hudson
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DOI (Published version): 10.1017/S0144686X15000410
The benefits of exercise are well documented, nevertheless, physical activity (PA) decreases progressively with age, a trend exacerbated in those who have fallen. An important predictor of exercise behaviour is the extent to which motivation for exercise has been internalized into one’s identity, ho...
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The benefits of exercise are well documented, nevertheless, physical activity (PA) decreases progressively with age, a trend exacerbated in those who have fallen. An important predictor of exercise behaviour is the extent to which motivation for exercise has been internalized into one’s identity, however, we know little about changing health behaviours in older people, with calls for longitudinal studies to aid understanding (e.g., Strachan, Brawley, Spink, & Glazebrook 2010). Grounded in self-determination theory (SDT: Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000), the present study explored the role of self-talk in the process of identity change during the initial ten weeks of an exercise referral falls prevention programme. Six participants identified at risk of falling completed weekly measures of their PA-related cognition and identity; in-depth interviews were completed at course commencement and ten weeks later. During this initial phase of the behaviour change programme, participants developed stronger physical activity identities, with themes reflecting a transition from a physically-impaired and negative self to a more future-orientated, capable, and integrated self-identity. Concurrently, autonomy supportive and competence-reinforcing self-talk significantly increased, with nonsignificant increases and decreases in controlling and amotivational self-talk, respectively. The data suggest that self-talk may be usefully conceptualised as a process through which social messages are interpreted and internalised to integrate a new behaviour into one’s existing self-concept.
physical activity, motivation, self-talk, identity
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