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


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.


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.


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.


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.