Recently, the lack of physical activity and increasing rates of childhood obesity have received a great deal of attention in the United States. One way to combat inactivity in children is to utilize physical education programs as a means to promote active lifestyles. There is not, however, a consensus concerning how physical education programs can achieve the goal of increasing children’s physical activity patterns. The purpose of this review is to examine motivational constructs that can provide a theoretical framework to identify strategies that can be used in physical education classes to promote engagement in physical activity. Self-determination theory is offered as a framework that has the potential to integrate these motivational constructs and provide a more complete understanding of how practitioners can structure learning environments to foster motivation and engagement in activity. Suggestions are made for implementing the research into practice, as well as future research directions.
Bryan is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA, and Solmon is with the Department of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA.