Differential effects of health-promoting behaviors on wellbeing among adults





Health promotion, well being, physical activity, nutrition, aging,


As people age, identifying lifestyle choices that promote and support physical and emotional wellbeing becomes more important. Using the Reserve Capacity framework to explore psychosocial contributions to health disparities (Gallo, 2009), we examined the influences of age, gender, race, education, and income difficulty on engagement in two health-promoting behaviors: healthy eating and physical activity. We further examined how these factors relate to physical and emotional wellbeing in adults of varying ages. Data from 456 adults (M age = 50.7) were used to test a model in which demographic variables, healthy eating and physical activity were expected to relate to both physical and emotional wellbeing. The model adequately fit the data [x2(df = 47, N = 456) = 150.57, p < .001; CFI = .90; TLI = .84; RMSEA = .07], accounting for 40.1% of the variance in physical wellbeing and 21.4% of the variance in emotional wellbeing. Physical activity directly influenced both physical and emotional wellbeing. Healthy eating related directly to emotional wellbeing, but not physical wellbeing. Race exerted neither direct nor indirect effects.  Indirect effects of age on emotional wellbeing via healthy eating, and indirect effects of gender on both forms of wellbeing via physical activity were observed.  Education was associated with physical wellbeing directly and indirectly, via physical activity. Education was indirectly associated with emotional wellbeing via healthy eating. Income difficulty exerted both direct effects on wellbeing and indirect effects via both health-promoting behaviors. The independent contribution of sociodemographic influences and the importance of looking beyond age, race and gender as correlates of wellbeing are discussed.


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Author Biography

Julie Hicks Patrick, West Virginia University

Department of Psychology

Associate Professor







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