Relationships between a motivation to exercise and exercise activity levels in adolescents




Roane, Brandy PhD
Escarsega, Phillip
Mott, Kacee
Morrissey, Katherine


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Introduction: Prior literature shows a positive relationship exists between motivation to exercise and weight loss. Adolescents are a prime population to study health behaviors such as physical exercise and other obesity-related factors due to the many developmental changes occurring and increasing autonomy. This shouldering of responsibility for their health likely shifts motivation to a more prominent factor in sustaining healthy behaviors such as physical activity. The current analysis compares motivation to exercise and the impact it has on engaging in physical activity (PA). The hypothesis was teens who claimed higher motivation to exercise would subsequently evidence increased activity levels the next week compared to teens who did not exhibit high motivation to exercise. Methods: Participants were 35 normal weight to obese teens (mean grade=10th, mean age=15.3 yrs, 77% females, 23% Hispanic). After obtaining consent and assent, teens completed questionnaires assessing sleep and health behaviors. Included was the 19-item Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ2) to assess their motivation to engage in PA (scale:0-4/item; mean=27.1, SD=10). Stadiometer and digital scale measured height and weight (BMI %tile calculated). One week later teens completed additional assessments including the Past Week Modifiable Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents (MAQAPW) which provided data on # of activities engaged in; days/wk of sedentary behavior, light PA, moderate-vigorous PA, and all PA; total minutes/wk of PA; and min/day of PA. Data were from a larger prospective study assessing teen’s sleep and health. Regression analyses examined BREQ2 as a predictor of self-reported PA with sex, grade, age, and BMI %tile as covariates. Results: Analyses showed BREQ2 predicted the frequency teens engaged in moderate-vigorous PA (29%=none, 34%=1-2 days, 31%=3-5 days, 6%=6-7 days; beta=0.476, P=0.006) and days/week they engaged in PA (mean=2.83 days; beta=0.413, P=0.048). No other PA variables were significant. Conclusions: Motivation appears to increase how frequent teens engage in PA as well as how often they engage in moderate-vigorous PA. These two aspects of PA have been shown to protect against obesity. Further exploration into factors that both enhance and reduce motivation to engage in PA would be beneficial to reduce risk of obesity. Such findings would also assist with obesity interventions.