The role of self-determined motivation in the understanding of exercise-related behaviours, cognitions and physical self-evaluations

J Sports Sci. 2006 Apr;24(4):393-404. doi: 10.1080/02640410500131670.


Grounded in self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), the purpose of the present study was to examine whether amotivation, self-determined and controlling types of motivation could predict a range of exercise-related behaviours, cognitions and physical self-evaluations. Exercisers (n = 375) from ten health clubs in the North of England completed questionnaires measuring exercise motivation, exercise stages of change, number of relapses from exercise, future intention to exercise, barriers self-efficacy, physical self-worth and social physique anxiety. Controlling for age and sex, multiple and logistic regression analyses supported our hypotheses by showing self-determined motivation (i.e. intrinsic motivation and identified regulation) to predict more adaptive behavioural, cognitive and physical self-evaluation patterns than external regulation and amotivation. Introjected regulation was related to both adaptive and maladaptive outcomes. Furthermore, a multivariate analysis of variance revealed that exercisers in the maintenance stage of change displayed significantly more self-determined motivation to exercise than those in the preparation and action stages. The results illustrate the importance of promoting self-determined motivation in exercisers to improve the quality of their experiences, as well as to foster their exercise behaviour. Future research should examine the mechanisms that promote self-determined motivation in exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Comprehension
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Psychology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires