Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Julie Hicks Patrick.


The prevalence of obesity in the United States increases with age, with the highest rates corresponding to midlife. Midlife health behaviors may play a contributing role in many of the health problems commonly associated with advanced age. Health psychologists who have embraced a life-span developmental perspective argue that it is important to consider the individual developmental trajectories of health and successful aging. Goal-setting has been shown to account for significant variance in physical activity, which has a variety of health-promoting benefits. In order to investigate individual variability in the daily processes of physical activity goal pursuit within a sample of middle-aged adults who were obese or overweight and actively trying to lose weight, data from 35 adults between the ages of 35 and 60 were collected three times per day for six days via PalmRTM handheld computers. Results from within-person correlation coefficients with repeated measures revealed a number of significant findings: (1) increases in perceived control were associated with increases in goal-directed effort (r = 0.17), perceived progress (r = 0.21), positive affect ( r = 0.25), and life satisfaction (r = 0.21); (2) decreases in control (r = -0.22) and perceived progress ( r = -0.13) were associated with increases in negative affect; (3) increases in goal-directed effort (r = 0.19) and perceived progress (r = 0.60) were associated with increases in physical activity; and (4) increases in physical activity were associated with increases in positive affect (r = 0.14), all p < .05. Although follow-up analyses using weighted correlations generally mirrored these findings, results suggest that group-level associations are not always consistent with individual-level experiences of personal goal pursuits. Findings from this study contribute to life-span perspectives in health and aging by considering the daily variability of overweight and obesity, as well as the psychological processes and consequences associated with physical activity goal pursuit during midlife. Results from this study provide information that might be used to develop interventions targeted at how middle-aged adults can most effectively pursue their physical activity goals in light of personal goal appraisals and how such pursuit are associated with various aspects of subjective well-being.