Understanding motivation for two kinds of physical activity among older adolescent college students
by Lee, Rebecca Elizabeth, Ph.D., University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1998
Despite the widely recognized panoply of physical and psychological health benefits associated with regularly performed physical activity, epidemiological evidence indicates that levels of activity decrease over the lifespan, illustrated especially well during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Recommendations for appropriate levels and intensities of physical activity have recently been revised to include two kinds of physical activity, vigorous exercise and lifestyle activity. Little work has been done to understand the utility of applying a stages of change framework to both kinds of physical activity among older adolescents. The primary purposes of the current study were to test the utility of applying a staging framework to vigorous exercise and lifestyle activity, to apply the theory of intrinsic motivation using a staging framework, and to understand social influences at different stages of motivational readiness for both vigorous exercise and lifestyle activity. One hundred eighty four college students age 18 or 19 years completed measures of motivational readiness (stage of change), self-reported activity, self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, social support, normative perceptions of physical activity and body mass index. The sample was 55% female. Self reported physical activity, self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, social support, and extrinsic motivation all varied by stage of readiness for vigorous exercise (all $p\rm s<.001$). Similar results were seen for lifestyle activity with the exception that extrinsic motivation did not vary. Results support validity of the staging framework for older adolescent college students, and demonstrate the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and social influences in the process of physical activity adoption and maintenance.