Motivations for Adolescent Participation in Leisure-Time Physical Activity: International Differences

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Although there are substantial international differences in adolescent physical activity (PA), cross-country motivational differences have received limited attention, perhaps due to the lack of measures applicable internationally.


Identical self-report measures assessing PA and motivations for PA were used to survey students ages 11, 13, and 15 from 7 countries participating in the 2005−2006 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study representing 3 regions: Eastern Europe, Western Europe and North America. Multigroup comparisons with Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modeling examined the stability of factors across regions and regional differences in relations between PA and motives for PA.


Three PA motivation factors were identified as suitable for assessing international populations. There were significant regional, gender, and age differences in relations between PA and each of the 3 PA motives. Social and achievement motives were positively related to PA. However, the association of PA with health motivations varied significantly by region and gender. The patterns suggest the importance of social motives for PA and the possibility that health may not be a reliable motivator for adolescent PA.


Programs to increase PA in adolescence need to determine which motives are effective for the particular population being targeted.

Iannotti is with the Prevention Research Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD. Chen is with the Research, Curriculum, and Development Group, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Kololo is with the Dept of Child and Adolescent Health, Mother and Child Research Institute, Warsaw, Poland. Petronyte is with the School of Politics and Management, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania. Haug is with the Research Centre for Health Promotion, Bergen University, Norway. Roberts is with the Health Promotion Division, National Assembly for Wales, United Kingdom.