Women with higher neuroticism less physically active

The results showed that high extraversion and low neuroticism were linked to higher leisure time physical activity in middle-aged women. Women who scored high in extraversion reported more physical activity, but this was not seen in the physical activity measured by an activity monitor. Women who scored high in neuroticism reported less physical activity and had less physical activity captured by activity monitors.

“Even though both methods assess the frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity, they measure partly different aspects of physical activity,” explains postdoctoral researcher Tiia Kekäläinen from the Gerontology Research Center. “Activity monitors are better at capturing all daily stepping activities whereas self-reporting better accounts for all types of physical activities. Therefore, it is natural that results are partly different between different physical activity measures. It is important to use both ways to assess physical activity behavior.”

Personality traits may explain individual tendencies to estimate one’s own physical activity level

Personality may explain the way individuals assess their own level of physical activity. The results showed that older adults scoring high in neuroticism reported less physical activity than what was measured by accelerometers.

“Neuroticism describes a predisposition to experience negative feelings,” Kekäläinen says. “In addition to lower willingness to participate in physical activities, this kind of tendency seems to be related to underreporting physical activity behavior. The information about the role of personality could be used to help identify risk groups for inactivity and in physical activity promotion work.”

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