Physical Activity and Daily Stress Processes in Older Adulthood

Kate A. Leger, Susan T. Charles, Colette J. Brown, Karen L. Fingerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Older adults who are physically active report lower levels of stress. Less is known about the links between physical activity and exposure and reactivity to stressful events in daily life. The current study examined within-person associations between actigraphy-assessed daily physical activity and exposure and affective reactivity to naturally occurring interpersonal stressors. Method: Older adults (N = 180) from the Daily Experiences and Well-being Study completed ecological momentary assessments (EMAs) every 3 hr for 5–6 days where they reported negative affect throughout the day and interpersonal tensions at the end of the day. They also wore Actical accelerometers to capture physical activity. Results: Older adults reported greater numbers of interpersonal stressors on days when they spent less time being sedentary and engaged in more light physical activity. On days when older adults experienced more interpersonal stressors, they reported higher levels of negative affect, but this association was attenuated when they were more physically active that day. Discussion: Physical activity may bolster older adults’ capabilities to manage affective responses to interpersonal stressors in a more successful way. These findings underscore the importance of assessing physical activity and stressful events in daily life and have implications for both physical and psychological well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Actigraphy
  • EMA
  • Interpersonal stressors
  • Negative affect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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