Exercise as it relates to Disease/Light the fire to exercise

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A fact sheet and analysis of the journal article "Exploring motivation for physical activity across the adult lifespan" written by Jennifer Brunet and Catherine M. Sabiston.

What is the Background to this Research?[edit]

Physical activity (PA) is beneficial to health yet most adults do not engage in it[1], especially as age progresses, interest declines further [2]. As PA can delay and prevent chronic diseases and reduce burden of disease, it is vital to find out why more adults do not engage in PA. One factor that can be focussed on is motivation and in this context self-determination theory and PA are examined in the article “Exploring motivation for physical activity across the adult lifespan”[3].

Where is the research from?[edit]

Sabiston & Brunet[3] conducted research in Canada based on a grant from McGill University. No conflicts of interest were declared. Sabiston has published 266 research items.

What kind of research was this?[edit]

This is a quantitative cross-sectional study using questionnaires “Behavioural Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire” BREQ [4] and “The Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire” LTEQ [5].

Does the level of evidence from these and other types of study differ?[edit]

Several researches including a metastudy of 24 papers [6]confirm that motivation for PA varies across life span due to changing values, health and priorities [7].

What did the research involve?[edit]

An online survey using the BREQ and LTEQ questionnaire was filled in by 571 volunteers from Montreal, Quebec and McGill University. A 5-point scale was used in the survey with (0) not true for me to (4) very true for me. Volunteers also filled in Age, Height, weight, ethnicity and education. 349 participants were selected in the age range 18-24 and their average score was calculated for each of the motivational categories. MANCOVA, ANCOVA and linear regression were used on the data and as sample sizes were unbalanced Pillai’s trace was used as test of significance. Further additional MANCOVA on subsamples of randomly selected young adults was conducted and its results were similar to that of the entire group of young adults.

Was the methodology the best approach?[edit]

  • An online survey versus trained staff survey has its limitations [8]due to recall and unanswered queries. [9], however, it allows flexibility, privacy and cost effectiveness..
  • Response to surveys also depends on ethnicity, gender and education[8] and participants variety was limited.
  • LTEQ was originally only tested on white collared employees who had interest in being active[10].
  • LTEQ does not measure frequency and duration, therefore moderate-to vigorous PA cannot be assessed[11].

What limitations exist related to the important aspects or measures taken?[edit]

  • Participants were Caucasians, predominantly females, majority university graduates from Montreal Quebec and McGill University campus as such they are from a segment of society. Other contributing factors not considered to motivate PA are weather, seasons, location of facilities, transport, environmental/Government support, income, occupation, education, and health status. However, multivariate study are complex to conduct.
  • Age categorisation though widely used does not distinguish between chronological age and biological age leading to different motivators.

What were the basic results?[edit]

  • Individuals in the age range 18-64 were motivated more because it aligned with their goals, values, needs and they found it enjoyable rather than for rewards or punishment.
  • Intervention strategies aimed at increasing PA should focus on Autonomous motivation (increasing identified regulation and intrinsic motivation) by targeting variables shown to increase these motivators. Identified regulation is engaging in an activity that feels personally valuable, important and targeted to a desired outcome whereas intrinsic motivation is an activity undertaken for feelings of pleasure, fun, and satisfaction.
  • Middle aged adults had lower internal motivation and were less influenced by appearance or social recognition.
  • Young adults’ PA levels increased as their belief that PA is inherently pleasurable and the value and importance they place on it increased.
  • It recommended future researches in identifying mechanisms of intrinsic motivation for physical activity, perceptions of competence/self-efficacy across age groups and body dissatisfaction and weight management motives for PA.

What conclusions can we take from this research?[edit]

  • Motivation varies across lifespan based on age and should focus on autonomous motivation ie., Identified regulation and intrinsic motivation.

Practical Advice[edit]

  • While, Motivation varies across the lifespan, it may not be as black and white on an individual basis within an age group. For example older people and younger people may also be physically active to look and feel good.
  • On an individual basis all avenues to motivate can be tried immaterial of age namely factors that feel personally valuable, important and targeted to a desired outcome feelings of pleasure, fun, and satisfaction.

How do the findings align with other research in the area?[edit]

This research enhanced motivation understanding by looking across the adult lifespan instead of a particular age group. A 2018 longitudinal study further added support to some of the findings[12].

Further information/resources[edit]


  1. Withall J, Jago R, Fox KR. Why some do but most don't. Barriers and enablers to engaging low-income groups in physical activity programmes: a mixed methods study. BMC Public Health. 2011 06/28;11:507-.
  2. Milanović Z, Pantelić S, Trajković N, Sporiš G, Kostić R, James N. Age-related decrease in physical activity and functional fitness among elderly men and women. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2013 05/21;8:549-56.
  3. a b Brunet J, Sabiston CM. Exploring motivation for physical activity across the adult lifespan. Psychology of sport and exercise. 2011;12(2):99-105
  4. Mullan E, Markland D, Ingledew DK. A graded conceptualisation of self-determination in the regulation of exercise behaviour: Development of a measure using confirmatory factor analytic procedures. Personality and Individual Differences. 1997;23(5):745-52.
  5. Godin G. The Godin-Shephard leisure-time physical activity questionnaire. The Health & Fitness Journal of Canada. 2011;4(1):18-22.
  6. A Scerpella T, Tuladhar P, A Kanaley J. Validation of the Godin-Shephard questionnaire in prepubertal girls. Vol. 342002
  7. Miller AM, Iris M. Health promotion attitudes and strategies in older adults. Health Education & Behavior. 2002;29(2):249-67.
  8. a b Meisenberg G, Williams A. Are acquiescent and extreme response styles related to low intelligence and education? Personality and Individual Differences. 2008;44(7):1539-50.
  9. Enes CC, Fernandez PMF, Voci SM, Toral N, Romero A, Slater B. Validity and reliability of self-reported weight and height measures for the diagnoses of adolescent's nutritional status. Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia. 2009;12:627-35.
  10. Enes CC, Fernandez PMF, Voci SM, Toral N, Romero A, Slater B. Validity and reliability of self-reported weight and height measures for the diagnoses of adolescent's nutritional status. Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia. 2009;12:627-35.
  11. DuBose KD, Robinson TS, Rowe DA, Mahar MT. Validation of a modified version of the Godin-Shephard Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire. Med Sci Sport Exercise. 2006;38:2883.
  12. Ntoumanis N, Stenling A, Thøgersen‐Ntoumani C, Vlachopoulos S, Lindwall M, Gucciardi DF, et al. Longitudinal associations between exercise identity and exercise motivation: A multilevel growth curve model approach. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 2018;28(2):746-53.