What Factors Motivate One To Become Physically Active?

Submitted By Sydylites
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What factors motivate one to become physically active? Whether it’s the need to live a healthy lifestyle or to just get involved, the motivation comes from a central point and affects multiple facets of exercise (ex: frequency, performance). The researchers referenced in this review are interested in this area because exercise is a seen as an obvious answer to the question: How can I make my life better? These researchers all addressed motivation in some capacity and related it to a part of exercise. For example, intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic motivation and how the self-determination theory relates to exercise frequency.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic
Research states that there are two main forms of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. Vallerand describes intrinsic motivation as when “behavior is performed mostly for its own benefit, for example to experience satisfaction. (271)” Besides mere satisfaction, Edmunds presents three other human needs to describe intrinsic motivation: connectedness, competence and belonging. “The need for these feelings work as a motivation for everything in life, including exercise. (376)” Banting also puts great faith in intrinsic motivation. Banting found in her study, exploring motivation during a spin class, that “participants primed for autonomous motivation could report greater feelings of enjoyment, effort and choice in relation to the cycling activity and report greater exercise intentions. (570)” Another researcher that relies mostly on intrinsic than extrinsic is Burton. Burton found that intrinsic motivation showed a greater increase in psychological well being than that of extrinsic motivation. However Vallerand disagrees. He discusses how only with a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can one achieve the greatest outcome.
The Self-Determination Theory and Exercise Frequency
Motivation in exercise can come from multiple origins. With the proper motivation any athlete can achieve remarkable goals. Many researchers delve into the self-determination theory to explain the motivation behind these goals and how it relates to exercise frequency (Lewis and Edmunds). Lewis states that the self-determination theory (SDT) examines the extent to which human behaviors are self-determined and the degree to which people's actions are influenced by internal and external forces. In other words, the SDT differentiates between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is seen in fully self-determined individuals: their motivation for particular behaviors is a fully integrated part of their sense of self and they take part in exercise because they find it inherently enjoyable (Lewis). Extrinsic is more robotic, people exercise because they feel they have to do in order to improve appearance etc not because they really want to. Lewis indicates 5 big traits that contribute to the motivation behind exercise frequency: health, appearance, stress management, weight control and enjoyment. These traits can be from either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. For example one can exercise more because they genuinely want to be healthy or because their family are be pressuring them to lose weight. Edmunds also identifies basic traits behind exercise frequency: autonomy, connection and belonging. However these traits only deal with intrinsic motivation rather than making them independent from both like Lewis' traits.
Although many researchers present a variety of ideas about motivation in relation to exercise, Few focus on the personal drive that start people on the path to an active lifestyle rather than what keeps people going. This is a major gap in my research, which is important to address because it can be used as support for motivation recorded during exercise. For example, if a New Years revolution to be thin was a factor that leads one to become physically active, how does that influence the motivation put towards an average workout in late March? In this