Exercise as a gateway behavior for healthful eating among older adults: An exploratory study

Michelle Tucker, Marla Reicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Context: The relationship between eating and exercise behavior change may influence effectiveness of interventions for older adults. Objective: To determine whether exercise is a potential gateway behavior for healthful eating behavior among older adults. Design: The Transtheoretical Model was applied to eating and exercise behaviors through the administration of a cross-sectional survey. Setting/Participants: 205 older adults (the majority were white women) participating in congregate dining programs in a large Midwestern city. Variables Measured: Perceived benefits and barriers, self-efficacy, and stage of change related to exercise and eating habits Analysis: Differences in responses to survey items based on stage of change were determined by analysis of variance, P < .05. Results: Subjects in later stages for exercise behavior were also likely to be in later stages for eating adequate servings of fruit and dairy products but not for vegetables and avoiding fat. Conclusions and Implications: Exercise is a potential gateway behavior for some dietary behaviors for older adults, justifying further controlled, longitudinal research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S14-S19
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Gateway behavior
  • Older adults
  • Transtheoretical Model


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