Background: Pleasure is one determinant of intrinsic motivation and yet a dimension often forgotten when promoting physical activity among the older population. In this study we investigate the relation between daily activities and physical activity, experience of pleasure, and the interaction between pleasure and physical activity in the daily lives of community-dwelling older adults.
Methods: Participants carried a hip-worn accelerometer during 30 consecutive days resulting in a total of 320 days of data collection. Current activity, location, companion and experience of pleasure during each activity were assessed through experience sampling on a smartphone every 1–2 h. Between- and within-individual differences were analysed with multi-level models and 10xN = 1 regression analysis.
Results: Outdoor activities were associated with higher physical activity than indoor activities (p < 0.001). Performing leisure activities, outdoors and not alone significantly predicted pleasure in daily life (all p’s < 0.05). Being more active while performing leisure activities resulted in higher experiences of pleasure (p < 0.001). However, when performing basic activities of daily living (e.g. commuting or households) this relation was inverted. Results provide meaningful indication for individual variance. The 30 days of data collected from each participant allow for identification of individual differences.
Conclusions: Daily activities and their contexts do influence the experience of pleasure and physical activity of older adults in daily life of older adults, although similar research with larger population is recommended. Results are in accordance with the literature, indicating that the method adopted (accelerometry combined with experience sampling) provides reliable representation of daily life. Identification of individual differences can eventually be automatically performed through data mining techniques. Further research could look at innovative approaches to promote Active Ageing using mobile technology in the daily life, by promoting physical activity through recommendation of pleasurable activities, and thus likely to increase the intrinsic motivation to become physically active.