The role of time perspective in the relationship between physical activity and mental health in older adults


Time is fundamental to human existence; time perspective relates to how individuals perceive the past, present, and future. Time perspective involves the process of sorting personal experiences into temporal categories, to make sense of and organise life histories as well as guide expectations of the future. An individual's time perspective is often biased toward a certain temporal category (e.g., past, present, or future); this bias can influence cognitions, emotions, and behaviours. Extensive previous research operationalizes time perspective into four factors outlining past and future factors differentiated as being positive or negative, as well as two present factors that are either fatalistic or hedonistic. A future positive time perspective has been associated with higher levels of wellbeing, positive health behaviours, and generally healthy ageing. The present study examined the role of time perspective in the relationship between physical activity and depression with a sample of 456 older adults (60- 90 years; 53.7% female; Mage= 70.4 years, SD = 7.7). Hierarchic regression analyses revealed that self-report levels of physical activity were significantly predicted by present hedonistic and negatively associated with past negative and present fatalistic time perspectives. Scores on the present hedonistic time perspective factor acted as a significant moderator in the relationship between physical activity and depression. The findings of the present study highlight the importance of considering time perspective in the context of physical activity and mental health promotion underlying healthy aging.

Acknowledgments: Data used in the present study is part of the Betula project a study of aging, memory, and dementia.