The Relationship of Preferences and Self-Regulation Among Consistent Exercisers


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Virginia Tech


Previous research, such as 'exercise determinants', has primarily sampled minimally physically active and sedentary people. In turn, studies focused on correlates of and perceived barriers to minimal physical activity (PA). The present study focused on exercisers (N=247, mean age=34) to assess social cognitive variables associated with PA consistency. Participants were categorized as either inconsistent, or slightly, fairly, or highly consistent exercisers. A new preference construct (type of activity, environment, social setting, feedback) for exercise was developed, and its association with consistency was assessed. Online measures assessed PA levels, preferences, enjoyment, outcome expectancy, self-efficacy, social-support, self-regulation. Higher planning confidence (Ã =.333, p<.000) and frequency (Ã =.276, p<.000) was associated with higher levels of PA consistency. Planning preference influenced planning frequency (Ã =.498, p<.000). Planning confidence influenced planning preference (Ã =.187, p<.003), which mediated its effect on planning frequency (Ã =.220, p<.000). Goal-setting frequency influenced consistency (Ã =.279, p<.000). Goal-setting preference influenced goal-setting frequency (Ã =.668, p<.000). Tracking frequency influenced consistency (Ã =.216, p<.000). Tracking preference influenced tracking frequency (Ã =.696, p<.000). Tracking confidence influenced tracking preference (Ã =.517, p< .000). Age influenced planning confidence (Ã =-.147, p<.021) and goal-setting confidence (Ã =-.164, p<.01). Engaging in PA in one's preferred environment (Ã =.540, p<.000) or with preferred company (Ã =.220, p<.001) was higher among more consistent exercisers. Using strategies to offset perceived barriers to exercise was highly predictive of consistency (Ã =.458, p<.000). Results suggest interventions should assess and match people to PA preference dimensions (i.e. environment, company, and self-regulation strategies) which will increase their self-regulation and ultimately exercise consistency.



physical activity, preferences, self-regulation