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Motivation to engage in physical activity (PA) is of research interest due to the United States’ failure to achieve significant gains in the rates of individuals meeting national PA recommended guidelines. Veterans have physical deficiencies at a greater rate than the general population, and older veterans (> 65 years) are the least physically active of all veteran cohorts. The purpose of this pilot study was to ascertain the motivations of older veterans participating in an ongoing exercise program supervised and supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Participants (N = 63) self-reported their preferred exercises within the program and completed the Motives for Physical Activity Measure–Revised (MPAM-R), which assessed their exercise motivations in terms of interest/enjoyment, fitness, appearance, social factors, and competence. The most performed aerobic activity was walking, and the most popular anaerobic activity was yoga. Mean results of the MPAM-R indicated fitness as the highest rated motivation (M = 6.53, SD = 1.1), with a strong desire among participants for veterans to maintain health and well-being. The lowest rated statements were those related to social factors (M = 4.96, SD = 1.8), specifically, spending time with others. Fitness was statistically significant to interest/enjoyment, competence, and appearance (p < .01) but not to social motivation. However, interviews (n = 4) with participants of 10+ years revealed social factors to be a strong motivator for long-term participation in the exercise program. Exploring participants’ motivations produces valuable information that may broadly impact the development of future exercise programs.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Motivations of Older Veterans in a Physical Activity Program

  • Journal title
    • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship

  • Volume
    • 13

  • Issue
    • 4

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • License
  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      This research was supported in part by an National Institute on Aging training grant to the Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development (T32-000039-41).