239485 Maintaining Physical Activity Over Time: The Importance of Basic Psychological Need Fulfillment

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:50 PM

Judy Springer, PhD , Physical Education Department, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee, WI
Susie Lamborn, PhD , Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Diane Pollard, PhD , Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee -- Emeritus, Milwaukee, WI
Introduction: Research that uses psychological need satisfaction as a framework for understanding motivations for long-term physical activity participation is not well established. Drawing from self-determination theory, the purpose of this study is to examine the processes associated with maintenance of physical activity for at least three years for individuals at a community health/fitness facility. Methods: Twelve participants (mean age 54.25 years, SD 11.79) who had engaged in regular physical activity for at least three years completed in-depth qualitative interviews using a grand tour question format and recorded personal reflective journals. Results: Content analysis revealed three themes organized around the satisfaction of psychological needs: (1) Relatedness (We've gotten to know friends here) included the giving and receiving of support with corresponding reinforcement within the facility and outside for maintaining physical activity; (2) Competence (This is something I can do) included a sense of accomplishment that was often paired with competition, and the management of weight, stress, and health; (3) Autonomy (I like being an active person) included establishing a regular routine, valuing consistent activity, and reducing reliance on medications. The final theme of Physically Active Self (I like the way I feel) revealed the transformation to a self-determined individual through the internalized management of physical activity. Conclusion: Our results suggest that long-term physical activity adherence may be strengthened by promoting the basic psychological need fulfillment of individuals. Adherence is most likely to be sustained when the value of physical activity participation becomes internalized over time as a component of identity.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the processes associated with physical activity maintenance over time Identify the basic psychological need satisfaction supports in a health/fitness facility Formulate two strategies to encourage physical activity maintenance in a community setting

Keywords: Adult Health, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee. The specific course work and research focused on long-term health behavior change with particular emphasis on physical activity adoption and adherence. My undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northern Illinois University are in Exercise Physiology. I am qualified to present because I have over twenty five years experience in physical activity promotion, facilitation, and evaluation. Further, I have conducted extensive research in health behavior change with various populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.