Objectives: Poor adherence to regular exercise is a documented challenge among people with heart disease. Identifying key determinants of exercise adherence and distinguishing between the processes driving short- and long-term adherence to regular exercise is a valuable endeavor. The purpose of the present study was to test a model of exercise behavior change, which incorporates motivational orientations and self-efficacy for exercise behavior, in the prediction of short- and long-term exercise adherence.
Method: Male and female patients (N = 801) hospitalized for coronary heart disease were recruited from 3 tertiary care cardiac centers and followed for a period of 1 year after hospital discharge. A prospective, longitudinal design was used to examine the roles of motivation and self-efficacy (measured at recruitment and at 2 and 6 months after discharge) in the prediction of exercise behavior at 6 and 12 months. Baseline measures of exercise and clinical and demographic covariates were included in the analyses.
Results: Structural equation modeling showed that both autonomous motivation and self-efficacy were important determinants of short-term (6-month) exercise behavior regulation, but that only autonomous motivation remained a significant predictor of long-term (12-month) exercise behavior. Self-efficacy partially mediated the relationship between motivation for exercise and 6-month exercise behavior.
Conclusions: This research confirmed the roles of autonomous motivation and self-efficacy in the health behavior change process and emphasized the key function of autonomous motivation in exercise maintenance. Theoretical and cardiac rehabilitation program applications of this research are discussed.
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