Healthy Neuroticism, Daily Physical Activity, and Daily Stress in Older Adults
People are typically less physically active when experiencing stress, an unavoidable aspect of life. Since physical activity has been associated with health benefits, it is important to understand what influences physical activity during stress. Research has demonstrated that individuals who are high in conscientiousness are more physically active; however, studies that have examined physical activity among people high in neuroticism have yielded mixed findings. Healthy neuroticism, a term used to describe individuals high in conscientiousness and neuroticism, may explain these mixed results. While individuals low in conscientiousness and high in neuroticism may become overwhelmed, stress may motivate people high in healthy neuroticism to be physically active as an investment in their future. We assessed older adults’ (N = 60; Mage = 70.72; 76.70% cisgender women) personality at baseline as well as daily physical activity and daily stress over 14 days. Regression analyses investigated whether daily stress predicted daily physical activity and whether healthy neuroticism moderated the physical activity-stress association. Ultimately, this study found that daily stress did not predict daily physical activity; as stress increased, individuals higher in conscientiousness were less physically active, while individuals lower in conscientiousness were more active. These findings were inconsistent with our predictions and previous research. Consequently, we propose future research directions and potential explanations for these unforeseen findings.
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