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John C. Spence, Chris M. Blanchard, Marianne Clark, Ronald C. Plotnikoff, Kate E. Storey, and Linda McCargar

Background:

The purposes of this study were to determine if a) gender moderated the relationship between self-efficacy and physical activity (PA) among youth in Alberta, Canada, and, alternatively b) if self-efficacy mediated the relationship between gender and PA.

Methods:

A novel web-based tool was used to survey a regionally diverse sample of 4779 students (boys = 2222, girls = 2557) from 117 schools in grades 7 to 10 (mean age = 13.64 yrs.). Among other variables, students were asked about their PA and self-efficacy for participating in PA.

Results:

Based upon a series of multilevel analyses, self-efficacy was found to be a significantly stronger correlate of PA for girls. But, boys had significantly higher self-efficacy compared with girls, which resulted in significantly more PA.

Conclusions:

Findings suggest self-efficacy is an important correlate of PA among adolescent girls but that boys are more physically active because they have more self-efficacy for PA.