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Joan B. Landry and Melinda A. Solmon

Physical inactivity is a major health risk factor in our society, and older women and minority populations are especially at risk in this regard. Many earlier studies that have addressed physical inactivity, however, focused primarily on European-American males. Although recent research has begun to include more diverse populations, there continues to be a need for further study of specific at-risk populations. This study examined self-determination in the regulation of exercise behavior in a sample of 105 African American women. They completed the Stages of Exercise Scale and the Behavior Regulation Exercise Questionnaire. Consistent with theoretical predictions, individuals who had been active over a period of time were more self-determined in their behavior regulation. Exercising to achieve an outcome emerged as the most influential factor in discriminating active participants from inactive ones. This study supports the use of this theoretical approach in gaining an understanding of the types of motivation most likely to contribute to the initiation and maintenance of exercise behavior change in African American women.