Predictors of Long-term Exercise Maintenance among College Aged Adults
Role of Body Image Anxiety
Background and Purpose: Participation in regular exercise is low among young adults and is contributing to a rapid increase in obesity and chronic health conditions. Enhancing motivation is a key element in exercise initiation and maintenance. The current investigation considers factors relevant to the transtheoretical model (TTM), self-determination theory (SDT), self-efficacy (SE), and body image anxiety (BIA) in relation to college students’ motivation to exercise. Design and Main Outcome Measures: In this cross sectional study, lower division college students (N=614, 64% female, 36% male) completed an online survey of exercise behavior, motivation, SE and BIA. Results: BIA was related to both controlled extrinsic (external and introjected regulations) and autonomous extrinsic (integrated regulation) SDT motivational variables, as well as intrinsic motivation. Exercise maintenance was most strongly associated with integrated regulation, a “selfdetermined” motivational state, and SE. Conclusion: The current study provides support for the central tenet of SDT indicating that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are not mutually exclusive constructs. Helping individuals with BIA develop a more intrinsic approach to exercise is integral for fostering long-term exercise maintenance. Thus, future research should focus on developing interventions that enhance integrated regulation and SE in order to promote exercise maintenance and reduce associated BIA.