Using social cognitive theory to explain discretionary, "leisure-time" physical exercise among high school students

J Adolesc Health. 2003 Jun;32(6):436-42. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(03)00046-6.


Purpose: To examine whether knowledge of high school students' actions of self-regulation, and perceptions of self-efficacy to overcome exercise barriers, social situation, and outcome expectation will predict non-school related moderate and vigorous physical exercise.

Methods: High school students enrolled in introductory Physical Education courses completed questionnaires that targeted selected Social Cognitive Theory variables. They also self-reported their typical "leisure-time" exercise participation using a standardized questionnaire. Bivariate correlation statistic and hierarchical regression were conducted on reports of moderate and vigorous exercise frequency.

Results: Each predictor variable was significantly associated with measures of moderate and vigorous exercise frequency. All predictor variables were significant in the final regression model used to explain vigorous exercise. After controlling for the effects of gender, the psychosocial variables explained 29% of variance in vigorous exercise frequency. Three of four predictor variables were significant in the final regression equation used to explain moderate exercise. The final regression equation accounted for 11% of variance in moderate exercise frequency.

Conclusions: Professionals who attempt to increase the prevalence of physical exercise through educational methods should focus on the psychosocial variables utilized in this study.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Male
  • Ohio
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires