Physical Activity: the Role of Autonomous Motivation and Self-regulation Techniques


  • J. Nurmi
  • A. Haukkala
  • V. Araujo-Soares
  • N. Hankonen


Background: Autonomous motivation and self-regulatory techniques, e.g. self-monitoring, action planning and coping planning, are known to predict physical activity (PA). We studied whether the use of self-regulatory techniques affects the motivation-behaviour relationship. Methods: Finnish adolescents (N =411, aged 16-19) took an electronic survey including validated measures of self-determined motivation, self-regulatory techniques, and PA, and a one-month follow-up. A subsample used an accelerometer to objectively measure PA (n=69). Findings: Intrinsic motivation was positively related (β =.47, p<.001) and extrinsic motivation unrelated (β =-.03, p=.612) to self-regulation technique use. Autonomous PA motivation (β =.29, p<.001) and the use of self-regulation techniques (β =.39, p<.001) prospectively predicted PA. Self-regulation techniques mediated the effects of motivation on PA but did not influence the strength or direction of the relationship between any type of motivation and PA. Discussion: Teaching self-regulation techniques use and supporting autonomous PA motivation may be equally important and have additive effects in interventions aiming to increase adolescents’ PA.






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