Stage of regular exercise and health-related quality of life

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Background. Research on cognitive factors and motivational readiness for exercise is important for increasing our understanding of behavior change among those with sedentary lifestyles. This study examines stage of change for regular exercise and self-perceived quality of life. Methods. Data are from 1,387 respondents to a random digit dial survey of health behaviors. Stage of change is assessed with a single item, and individuals are classified with respect to intention and exercise behavior. Quality of life is assessed with the SF-36, a multidimensional measure of health-related quality of life. Results. Exercise stage is associated with self-perceived quality of life. The three areas most strongly related were physical functioning, general health perceptions, and vitality. Physical functioning scores were lowest in precontemplation and highest in maintenance. Vitality and mental health scales were related to exercise behavior, but not to intention. Conclusions. Cognitions about self-perceived quality of life vary across the stages of change, with those who are least prepared to adopt regular exercise reporting the lowest levels of quality of life. These findings suggest that cognitive-motivational messages designed to emphasize quality of life benefits associated with exercise may be useful intervention strategies for people who are less motivationally ready to change.

Publication Title

Preventive Medicine