To identify factors that motivate adolescents to be physically active; to assess differences in motivators for groups at risk for physical inactivity, including girls vs boys, overweight vs nonoverweight youth, and youth with low vs high perceived sport competence; and to assess links between activity motivation and physical activity.
A middle school in rural central Pennsylvania.
Two hundred two girls (n = 92) and boys (n = 110).
Motivations to be physically active were assessed using the Activity Motivation Scale. Perceived sport competence was measured by the Physical Self Description Questionnaire. Participants’ height and weight were measured and used to classify their overweight status.
Main Outcome Measure
Three self-reported measures were used to assess adolescents’ physical activity.
Adolescents were most likely to report personal fulfillment as the strongest motivating factor for physical activity (mean [SD], 3.49 [0.56]), followed by weight-based motivation (mean [SD], 2.39 [0.93]), peer motivation (mean [SD], 2.09 [0.67]), and parent motivation (mean [SD], 1.72 [0.73]; F = 680.74; P<.001). Overweight adolescents reported significantly higher weight-based motivation (mean [SD], 2.84 [0.79]) compared with nonoverweight adolescents (mean [SD], 2.06 [0.89]; F = 40.52; P<.001), and adolescents with low perceived sport competence reported significantly lower personal fulfillment motivation (mean [SD], 3.20 [0.68]) compared with adolescents with higher perceived sport competence (mean [SD], 3.69 [0.32]; F = 52.31; P<.001). Personal fulfillment was the only motivating factor that showed a consistent moderate to strong association with physical activity across all regression models.
Personal fulfillment motivation should be considered when designing physical activity promotion programs for adolescents.