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Exercise motivation: a cross-sectional analysis examining its relationships with frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise

Lindsay R Duncan1*, Craig R Hall1, Philip M Wilson2 and O Jenny3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 3K7, Canada

2 Brock University, Faculty of Applied Health Science, Department of Physical Education and Kinesiology, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St Catharines, ON, L2S 3A1, Canada

3 Department of Kinesiology, California State University, East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd Hayward, CA, 94542, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2010, 7:7  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-7

Published: 26 January 2010



It is important to engage in regular physical activity in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle however a large portion of the population is insufficiently active. Understanding how different types of motivation contribute to exercise behavior is an important first step in identifying ways to increase exercise among individuals. The current study employs self-determination theory as a framework from which to examine how motivation contributes to various characteristics of exercise behavior.


Regular exercisers (N = 1079; n = 468 males; n = 612 females) completed inventories which assessed the frequency, intensity, and duration with which they exercise, as well as the Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire including four additional items assessing integrated regulation.


Bivariate correlations revealed that all three behavioral indices (frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise) were more highly correlated with more autonomous than controlling regulations. Regression analyses revealed that integrated and identified regulations predicted exercise frequency for males and females. Integrated regulation was found to be the only predictor of exercise duration across both genders. Finally, introjected regulation predicted exercise intensity for females only.


These findings suggest that exercise regulations that vary in their degree of internalization can differentially predict characteristics of exercise behavior. Furthermore, in the motivational profile of a regular exerciser, integrated regulation appears to be an important determinant of exercise behavior. These results highlight the importance of assessing integrated regulation in exercise settings where the goal of understanding motivated behavior has important health implications.