Exploring Physical and Psychosocial Well-Being and Self-Awareness as a New Frontier in Active Aging

Federica Sancassiani1, *, Donatella Rita Petretto2, Ferdinando Romano3, Antonio Preti1
1 Department of Medical Sciences and Public Health, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
2 Department of Psychology, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
3 Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy

Article Metrics

CrossRef Citations:
Total Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 673
Abstract HTML Views: 296
PDF Downloads: 325
ePub Downloads: 238
Total Views/Downloads: 1532
Unique Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 461
Abstract HTML Views: 224
PDF Downloads: 269
ePub Downloads: 201
Total Views/Downloads: 1155

Creative Commons License
© 2018 Sancassiani et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Medical Sciences and Public Health, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy; Tel: 0039 349 3119215; E-mail:

The knowledge about the effects of exercise, physical and sport activities on general well-being has been advanced thanks to pioneering studies in several medical conditions and in rehabilitation from the 1980s onwards [1]. However, a noteworthy contribution to improving standard tools hallowing to measure of how much exercise, physical and sport activities could affect the quality of life (QoL) of the elderly and adults came mainly from the studies on their effects on depression and mental health [2-4].

First, the new perspectives have made it possible to establish the level of QoL, which cannot be considered as a simple variable depending on the state of health: actually, there are consolidated evidence of a complex relationship between health, QoL, exercise, physical and sport activities [5, 6]. Second, this complex vision of physical and psychosocial health has benefited from the concepts of well-being and QoL applied, first of all, like “extended” outcome measures to the studies on the use of exercise, physical and sport activities in depression [7, 8].

However, the challenge of active aging today can be placed in a new syncretic dimension in which aging is not seen (only) as the product of the progressive impairment to the body due to age, and not (only) due to social and architectural, physical and other types of barriers that prevent the person who advances with age to enjoy the maximum possible functioning. Active aging is a process of awareness of one's own limitations and, above all, of one's own resources that allow to cope with the barriers in the most functional way [9].

Within this perspective, subjectivity is central, that is why the measure of body awareness as explored by “The Physical Body Experiences Questionnaire Simplified for Active Aging (PBE-QAG)” [10] is a key dimension.

This questionnaire can undoubtedly be improved. For example, a comparison could be introduced in a more extended version of how the person feels the body today and how she felt it when she was younger, e.g., 40 years earlier.

Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that since it is the first instrument to address the measurement of such an important dimension, we think that this work represents a milestone.


[1] De Caprio L, Rengo F, Spampinato N, et al. Exercise tolerance as evidence of quality of life in CAD patients after coronary artery bypass by comparison with medical treatment. Acta Cardiol 1980; 35(1): 11-21.
[2] Mura G, Carta MG. Physical activity in depressed elderly. A systematic review. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2013; 9: 125-35.
[3] Mura G, Sancassiani F, Machado S, Carta MG. Efficacy of exercise on depression: A systematic review. Int J Psychosoc Rehabil 2014; 18(2): 23-36.
[4] Nishida M, Kikuchi S, Fukuda K, Kato S. Jogging therapy for Hikikomori social withdrawal and increased cerebral Hemodynamics: A case report. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2016; 12: 38-42.
[5] Sancassiani F, Machado S, Preti A. Physical activity, exercise and sport programs as effective therapeutic tools in psychosocial rehabilitation. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2018; 14: 6-10.
[6] Monteiro-Junior RS, Rodrigues VD, Campos C, et al. The role of physical activity on mood state and functional skills of elderly women. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2017; 13: 125-33.
[7] Silva-Júnior FL, Emanuel P, Sousa J, et al. Prior acute mental exertion in exercise and sport. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2016; 12: 94-107.
[8] Machado S, Lattari E, Paes F, et al. Mental practice combined with motor rehabilitation to treat upper limb hemiparesis of post-stroke patients: Clinical and experimental evidence. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2016; 12: 9-13.
[9] Petretto DR, Pili R, Gaviano L, Matos López C, Zuddas C. Active ageing and success: A brief history of conceptual models. Rev Esp Geriatr Gerontol 2016; 51(4): 229-41.
[10] Cossu G, Loi E, Carta MG, Bramanti A. The physical body experiences questionnaire simplified for active aging (PBE-QAG). Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2018; 14: 70-7.