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Does Exercise Motivation Predict Engagement in Objectively Assessed Bouts of Moderate-Intensity Exercise?: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective

Martyn Standage, Simon J. Sebire, and Tom Loney

This study examined the utility of motivation as advanced by self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) in predicting objectively assessed bouts of moderate-intensity exercise behavior. Participants provided data pertaining to their exercise motivation. One week later, participants wore a combined accelerometer and heart rate monitor (Actiheart; Cambridge Neurotechnology Ltd) and 24-hr energy expenditure was estimated for 7 days. After controlling for gender and a combined marker of BMI and waist circumference, results showed autonomous motivation to positively predict moderate-intensity exercise bouts of ≥10 min, ≥20 min, and an accumulation needed to meet public health recommendations for moderate-intensity activity (i.e., ACSM/AHA guidelines). The present findings add bouts of objectively assessed exercise behavior to the growing body of literature that documents the adaptive consequences of engaging in exercise for autonomous reasons. Implications for practice and future work are discussed.