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In Good Times and Bad: Associations of Partners' Positive Affect with Wives' Physical Activity - A Population Average Model
Lack of physical activity is considered a public health crisis, with only 21% of women meeting current physical activity guidelines. Inactivity places individuals at higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, cancer, and premature death. Affect, or one’s mood and emotions, is often related to both health outcomes and health behaviors. Positive affect is associated with a lower risk of mortality, healthy eating habits, and decreased alcohol consumption, while negative affect is associated with premature mortality, lower medication adherence, and riskier sexual behaviors. Fredrickson’s broaden and build theory of positive emotions (BABT) supports the relationship of how positive emotions can lead to enhanced health. This dissertation aims to examine the relationship between positive affect of married women, positive affect of their husbands and wives’ physical activity, guided by the BABT.
The three hypotheses for this investigation are: A) on days when wives have indicated higher positive affect, they will have higher levels of same day moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), B) on days when wives have higher positive affect, they will have higher levels of next day MVPA, and C) husbands’ positive affect will be associated with wives’ same day MVPA beyond the impact of wives’ own daily positive affect. To examine these relationships, a secondary data analysis of the Health and Relationships Project (HARP) data set using population average models was done. The HARP is a 10 day, online, daily diary study (including a baseline questionnaire) of couples that aimed to examine how individuals in long-term relationships manage situations/contexts that impact their health.
Independent variables assessing daily positive affect of calm and happy were used. The dependent variable of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was created as a sum of minutes of reported moderate and vigorous activity over the last 24 hours. Covariates in the model included age, baseline moderate activity frequency, baseline vigorous activity frequency, education level, marital quality, and race/ethnicity. This analysis included 115 heterosexual couples. There is partial support for the hypotheses. Results for hypothesis A showed only happiness (β = 0.15; p < 0.01) to be associated with same day MVPA. For hypothesis B neither happiness (β = 0.11; p = 0.06) nor calmness (β = 0.01; p =0.90) were significantly associated with wives’ next day MVPA. Findings for the two-partner model (hypothesis C) showed husbands’ affect did not significantly contribute to wives’ MVPA, while wives’ positive affect remained significantly associated with their own same day MVPA (happy β = 0.15; p < 0.01).
Wives’ positive affect being significantly associated with same day MVPA supports the tenets of Fredrickson’s BABT and previous work surrounding affect and health behaviors. While husbands’ positive affect was not significant in this analysis, husbands could be contributing to their wives’ MVPA in other ways such as increasing her overall happiness level or increasing her marital satisfaction. Additionally, other indicators of social support (e.g., close friends or other family members) could be impacting wives’ MVPA behaviors and should be considered in future studies. The results from this study support further investigation of the affect-physical activity relationship.