Choosing to move: motivational differences of physically active and physically inactive urban girls
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Objectives: The objectives of this project were to: 1) Determine whether physically active urban adolescent girls were more autonomously and internally regulated in their sport and exercise behaviors than their physically inactive counterparts; 2) Identify differences in motivation profiles among physically active and physically inactive urban girls; and 3) Establish the impact sport and exercise program experience has on the physical activity motivation of urban girls. Methods: The current study compared motivation of physically active and physically inactive adolescent girls according to the continuum of motivation outlined in the Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 1985) using the Behavioral Regulations in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ-2, Markland & Tobin, 2004). Subjects completed a four-page questionnaire and were categorized into two groups: physically active and physically inactive, based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (children ages 6-17; USDHHS, 2008). Results: Independent sample t-tests using survey data from adolescent females (n=149) living in Boston, Massachusetts determined that 1) Physically active girls are motivated by more autonomous and internalized processes than their inactive counterparts, and 2) Physically active girls reported higher levels of intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, and introjected regulation than physically inactive girls, and physically inactive girls reported higher levels of amotivation than physically active girls. Finally, multiple regression analysis was used to determine that 3) Years of sport and physical activity program experience predicts more autonomous and internalized motivation for physical activity behaviors. Conclusions: In order to facilitate the development of lifelong physical activity habits, sport and exercise environments must be intentionally created and administered to facilitate autonomous and internal motivation for physical activity. Coaches, parents, and all those working with adolescent girls who hope to foster the development of regular habits of physical activity would best serve their youth by attempting to satisfy basic psychological needs through sport and physical activities. The relationship between development and physical activity motivation is discussed, and limitations of the current study and recommendations for future research are reviewed.
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