Using social cognitive theory to predict physical activity and fitness in underserved middle school children

Res Q Exerc Sport. 2011 Jun;82(2):247-55. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2011.10599752.


Few researchers have used social cognitive theory and environment-based constructs to predict physical activity (PA) and fitness in underserved middle-school children. Hence, we evaluated social cognitive variables and perceptions of the school environment to predict PA and fitness in middle school children (N = 506, ages 10-14 years). Using multiple regression analyses we accounted for 12% of the variance in PA and 13-21% of the variance in fitness. The best predictors of PA were barrier self-efficacy, classmate social support, and gender; whereas, only gender predicted fitness. The results affirmed the importance of barrier self-efficacy and gender differences. Our findings regarding classmate social support are some of the first to illuminate the importance of school-specific peers in promoting PA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Peer Group
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Students / psychology*
  • United States