What difference does age make? Perceived confidence in high intensity functional training participants


Brooke Crawford, Cassandra Beattie, Katie M. Heinrich, Justin DeBlauw

Introduction: Research suggests that physical activity (PA) levels decline with age, with older adults having a tendency to not meet PA recommendations (i.e., 150 weekly minutes of moderate-vigorous aerobic PA and 2+ days of muscle-strengthening). Perceived confidence can positively influence PA levels, with higher levels of confidence resulting in greater amounts of PA. High intensity functional training (HIFT) classes can aid in meeting PA recommendations by helping participants meet basic psychological needs, providing community, and scaling workouts to accommodate varying skill levels, thus potentially increasing perceived confidence. Purpose: This study is to examine the relationship between age and perceived confidence amongst individuals aged 18-76 attending HIFT classes. Methods: Eighty-four participants (56% female, 91.7% white, 92.8% some college education or higher) with varying levels of HIFT experience (range= 0- months) completed an online survey answering questions regarding how confident they were when completing various activities/sports. Correlations were completed between age and confidence for the various aspects of activities/sports. Results: Significant negative correlations existed between age and confidence in one’s ability to complete physical exercises or compete in a sport requiring effort [r(80)= -.31, p=.01], accuracy [r(80)= -.43, p<0.01], agility [r(78)= -.339, p<0.01], coordination [r(79)= -.397, p<0.01], balance [r(79)=-.397, p<0.01], and strength [r(79)=-.341, p<0.01]. Conclusion: Despite regular HIFT participation, perceived confidence in the ability to exert effort, accuracy, agility, coordination, balance, and strength declines with age. Although significant, our correlations were small, and future research should examine if HIFT participation attenuates these confidence declines more so than other types of exercise programs. In addition, changes in confidence over time should be examined.

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