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Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: A systematic review

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❶International Journal of Sport and Health Science.

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The controlling interpersonal style in a coaching context: Development and initial validation of a psychometric scale. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology , 32 2 , Extending the trans-contextual model in physical education and leisure-time contexts: Examining the role of basic psychological need satisfaction. British Journal of Educational Psychology , 80 , Motivational profiles for secondary school physical education and its relationship to the adoption of a physically active lifestyle among university students.

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Perceived autonomy support, behavioural regulations in physical education and physical activity intention. Psychology for Sport and Exercise , 10 , Evaluation of a standard provision versus an autonomy promotive exercise referral programme: BMC Public Health , 9 , Changes in self-determination during an exercise referral scheme. Public Health , , Using the construct of perceived autonomy support to understand social influence within the theory of planned behavior.

Testing a self-determination theory based teaching style in the exercise domain. European Journal of Social Psychology , 38 , Sport motivation — A comparison between adult football players competing at different levels. Analyzing the measurement of psychological need satisfaction in exercise contexts: Evidence, issues, and future directions. Self-determination theory and the psychology of exercise.

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Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology , 30 , The role of motives in exercise participation. Psychology and Health , 23 , Psychometric properties of the Exercise Identity Scale: International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology , 6 , Burnout in elite rugby: Relationships with basic psychological needs fulfilment. Journal of Sports Science , 26 , Autonomy support, basic need satisfaction and the optimal functioning of adult male and female sport participants: A test of basic needs theory.

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Passion and performance attainment in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise , 9 , — The motivating role of positive feedback in sport and physical education: Evidence for a motivational model. Developing autonomy supportive coaching behaviors: An action research approach to coach development.. International Journal of Coaching Science , 2 , Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science , 40 , Development and validation of the goal content for exercise questionnaire.

Motivational profiles of junior college athletes in Singapore: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology , 20 , You can do two things to influence the level of autonomy that clients enjoy:. We all know that a variety of exercises can generally accomplish the same end; the differences in benefits may be minor. For example, there are subtle differences between the benefits gained from a dumbbell incline press and a barbell incline press.

However, if you choose the exercise that yields better gains, but clients do not realize those gains because they do not enjoy the exercise, what is the benefit? Disliking one exercise in a weight training program might not lead to dropout, but disliking half of the exercises could result in that outcome.

Ask clients to identify the exercises they enjoy, the exercises to which they are indifferent and the exercises they do not like at all. Then steer clear of the ones they dislike, and include many, if not all, of the exercises they enjoy.

Redefining the meaning of exercise mandates that you explain to clients that all types of physical activity constitute exercise. This mindset is restrictive and contributes to dropout. Blow the walls off that box when clients first start working with you, and as you design their programs, incorporate activities that the clients enjoy. We talked about how walking up and down the stairs for 10 minutes before eating is exercise.

Tap into what clients enjoy doing, and translate these activities into a worthwhile exercise session. For example, if you are working with someone who enjoys gardening, have that person walk to the hose, fill up the water jug only enough to water a few flowers, water the flowers, then walk back to fill up the jug with more water. If a client likes playing video games, encourage him to choose active Wii games.

Here are a few SDT tips on administering feedback:. Use general positive reinforcement e. Reinforcement can lose its value if clients hear it all the time; be somewhat selective when giving feedback. Give skill-specific feedback e. This kind of feedback is most beneficial when used immediately after clients have executed the skill. Also, give skill-specific feedback when clients are getting closer to performing the skill correctly.

Try the sandwich approach when giving corrective feedback. The sandwich approach is a great communication tool because you tell clients what to do, not what not to do, and you begin and end with positive statements. This creates an atmosphere of positivity that fosters client competence.

Feedback is effective if clients feel personally responsible for the action. When clients have low competence as exercisers, or have low competence in a particular area of exercising e. For a more in-depth understanding of the relation between participation motives and exercise, the characteristics of exercise participation e. For example, Frederick and Ryan compared individuals whose primary physical activity was a sport with individuals whose primary physical activity was a non-sport fitness activity [ 59 ].

Furthermore, the apparent positive at least in the short term role of these motives on exercise may then be mediated by the development of introjected regulation. It is important to note, as Markland and Ingledew pointed out [ 46 ], that holding controlled motivations is not necessarily problematic, motivationally speaking, as long as self-determined regulations are also held.

Thus, although intrinsic goals tend to be pursued for autonomous reasons and extrinsic goals tend to be pursued for controlled reasons [ 81 ], the content of, and reasons for pursuing aspirations can be empirically crossed. It is encouraging to see that in more recent years researchers have turned their attention to experimental studies evaluating interventions based on SDT principles.

The remaining contacts were performed via telephone [e. Not surprisingly, intensity, depth, and strategies used to promote personal autonomy and the development of intrinsic motivation for exercise also varied among these interventions.

Others included a more comprehensive set of strategies, more fully embracing SDT propositions [ 18 , 39 , 67 ] including providing a clear rationale for behavior change, acknowledging ambivalence and internal conflict, providing a menu of options, minimizing controlling influences e.

In sum, existing interventions are limited in number and highly varied. Longer and more comprehensive longitudinal interventions are needed, especially those which work toward the development of autonomous motivation, allow more time for changes in motivational and behavioral processes to take place, and assess whether those changes and associations persist in the long-term.

Overall, this review provides good evidence for the value of SDT in understanding and promoting exercise behavior. The clearest finding of this review concerns the beneficial role of developing autonomous self-regulation, be it predominantly via autonomous forms of extrinsic regulation i.

The present literature is consistent in showing that all forms of autonomous regulation predict exercise participation across a range of samples and settings. There is also increasing evidence that a motivational profile marked by high autonomous motivation is important to sustain exercise behaviors over time, although the pool of studies supporting this inference is limited.

Longer-term studies and follow-ups will be especially important in evaluating the relative efficacy of identified versus intrinsic regulations in exercise maintenance. For the moment, evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that reporting well-internalized extrinsic regulations, such as personally valuing certain outcomes of exercise, is a particularly important factor for initial adoption when cognitive factors such as rationally weighing pros and cons may be decisive but experiential knowledge of exercise may be limited.

Conversely, there is some indication that a predominance of intrinsic motivation i. We suspect future studies may come to identify significant moderating factors for the role of specific regulations on exercise adherence, such as age, gender, previous health conditions, or social norms and social desirability.

The experiential qualities of exercise were highlighted as a critical factor for adherence in a recent review of mediators of physical activity behavior change [ 82 ]. Again, future research with long-term outcomes and also exploring predictors of different forms of exercise should help elucidate these issues.

Two additional conclusions can be derived from the present review. One is that having more intrinsic participation motives or goals associated with exercise, such as affiliation and social engagement, challenge, and skill development, is clearly associated with greater exercise participation. The other is that reporting increased perceived competence for exercise is also positively predictive of more adaptive exercise behavioral outcomes.

Together, the previous findings have important implications for practice. It serves as evidence-based support for health professionals to strive not only to provide sufficient structure and optimal challenge to promote feelings of mastery and competence in their clients and patients, but also to encourage professionals to actively explore with the people they counsel reasons to be physically active that go beyond the most common motives such as improved body shape and attractiveness.

Finally, as we discussed previously, the consequences of health and fitness-related motives, including weight loss, are perhaps more complex and likely moderated by other motivational aspects. Limitations in the collective body of work are worthy of consideration as they bear on avenues for future research.

A major limitation concerns the heterogeneity of the samples in the majority of studies. Heterogeneity within samples with regard to such factors as age, gender, weight or body composition, and fitness status may be contributing to variability across studies. While general motivational patterns are likely to remain constant e. For instance, a recent study [ 63 ] highlights the existence of different patterns of motivation between long-term exercisers versus beginners. Similarly, more enduring individual differences could be explored.

Only one study has examined the relations between exercise causality orientations and exercise, and none have explored general causality orientations, despite the fact that such individual difference measures have been shown to predict adaptive outcomes in other health-related contexts [e. Finally, SDT has a history of strong experimental work on motivational factors but experimental work in the exercise domain itself could be expanded to better examine the causal mechanisms and process aspects of motivation for physical activity.

Cross-sectional research is now abundant, and generally supportive, but it needs to be complemented with more applied intervention and translational studies that adequately model, implement, and evaluate key hypotheses about why and how individuals adopt and sustain more physically active lifestyles. The methodology used in this review may also limit its conclusions. First, unpublished studies, evidence from grey literature, and data from non-English publications were not included.

Although this is a frequent occurrence in scientific systematic review papers, it may provide an incomplete account of all studies in this area. Third, as stated before, the decision to only evaluate direct paths is also inherently limiting considering that the distal effects of some variables on behavior is thought to be mediated by other intermediate variables.

Unfortunately, few studies are available to assess these more complete causal paths. In this regard, the growing evidence for the utility of SDT-based interventions for promoting the adoption and maintenance of exercise is a significant advance.

Future studies would do well to include biological markers of successful exercise-related outcomes such as increased fitness and reductions in disease risk factors. Similarly, studies that include markers of psychological well-being and mental health, such as self-esteem, vitality, and symptoms of anxiety and depression symptomatology would also be useful, given that according to SDT only autonomously regulated behaviors can translate into enhanced psychological wellness. For this reason, we will use the two terms indiscriminately in this review.

PJT conceived this manuscript and led the writing team. EVC conducted the study search, summarized the quantitative review, and drafted the Results section.

DM made substantial contributions to the Discussion section. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Jun Received Dec 19; Accepted Jun This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background Motivation is a critical factor in supporting sustained exercise, which in turn is associated with important health outcomes. Conclusion Overall, the literature provides good evidence for the value of SDT in understanding exercise behavior, demonstrating the importance of autonomous identified and intrinsic regulations in fostering physical activity.

Introduction Physical activity and exercise, when undertaken regularly, are highly beneficial for health, and for physical and psychological well-being [e. Open in a separate window. Methods Data sources and procedure This review is limited to articles written in English and published in peer-reviewed journals covering adult samples. Table 1 Description of reviewed studies.

Only RAI was tested in multivariate analysis. Self-reported exercise LTEQ ; exercise categories meeting vs. Differences between PA intensities.

Remaining variables not significant. No associations with moderately intense PA. Accelerometry Bivariate correlations; Sequential regression analysis Duncan et al. Total N from 6 samples: Bivariate correlations Edmunds et al. Exercise motives and related measures Ingledew et al. Exercise stages of change Manovas Davey et al. Total number of steps in 3wk Multiple regression analysis Segar et al. Reduced dropout and attendance to exercise classes Manovas and multiple regressions Ryan et al.

Attendance to and duration of exercise workout Manovas and multiple regressions Buckworth et al. Perceived need support Peddle et al. Self-reported exercise composite score ; exercise intensity Manovas with repeated measures Silva et al.

SDT-based WL treatment vs. Exercise Causality Orientations Rose et al. Gender differences Kwan et al. Self-reported exercise online diary Bivariate correlations VI. SDT-based exercise classes vs. SDT-based weight loss treatment vs. Exercise-related outcomes Exercise behavior was evaluated through self-reported measures e. Table 2 Summary of samples characteristics. Table 3 Summary of associations between SDT predictors and exercise-related outcomes. Results Characteristics of studies and samples The 66 located studies comprised a total of 72 independent samples.

Motivational predictors of exercise-related outcomes Exercise behavioral regulations. Discussion The aim of this review was to examine the empirical literature on the relations between SDT-based constructs and exercise and physical activity. Behavioral regulation and exercise The vast majority of studies included an examination of the relations between behavioral regulation and exercise behavior.

Need satisfaction and exercise Rather less attention has been paid to examining the associations between satisfaction of psychological needs and exercise than for behavioral regulations. Participation motives and exercise Following some early work in the s, there has been a resurgence of research in recent years on the role of exercise participation motives or goal contents.

Experimental studies It is encouraging to see that in more recent years researchers have turned their attention to experimental studies evaluating interventions based on SDT principles. Conclusions Overall, this review provides good evidence for the value of SDT in understanding and promoting exercise behavior. Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. References Physical activity guidelines advisory committee report. International prevalence of physical activity in youth and adults.

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Jun 22,  · Motivation is a critical factor in supporting sustained exercise, which in turn is associated with important health outcomes. Accordingly, research on exercise motivation from the perspective of self-determination theory (SDT) has grown considerably in recent years. Previous reviews have been mostly.

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The influence of implicit cognitive processes on physical activity: How the theory of planned behaviour and self-determination theory can provide a platform for our understanding. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2,

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Using self-determination theory to promote physical activity and weight control: a randomized controlled trial in women 1-year weight management intervention based on self-determination theory (SDT) on theory-based psychosocial mediators, physical activity/exercise, and body weight and. 12 Self-Determination Theory (SDT) has pro- vided a useful framework from which to identify the role of psychological needs and motivations in a physical activity setting. 13, 14 This theory de.

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The study aim was to examine constructs of autonomy support and competence as well as the motivation continuum from the self-determination theory (SDT) as a framework for understanding physical activity (PA) motivation and behavior in breast cancer survivors. Questionnaires assessing demographics, medical factors, PA, motivation . Self-Determination Theory and Physical Activity Among Breast Cancer Survivors Helen M. Milne, 1 Karen E. Wallman, Andrew Guilfoyle,2 as well as the motivation continuum from the self-determination theory (SDT) as a framework for understanding physical activity (PA) motivation and behavior in.