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Sonia Lippke, Jochen P. Ziegelmann and Ralf Schwarzer

Patients in rehabilitation settings often face difficulties in complying with physical exercise regimens. To examine social-cognitive determinants in the adoption and maintenance of exercise, a study with four points in time was launched, scrutinizing beliefs and behaviors of 509 orthopedic patients. Although exercise levels increased over time, a sizable number of patients remained inactive. Perceived self-efficacy and outcome expectancies predicted levels of intention and action plans. The latter two in turn were proximal predictors of subsequent exercise. In light of the findings, it is argued that planning helps to bridge the intention-behavior gap. Planning is an alterable variable and is therefore suitable for effective intervention.

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Benjamin Reyes Fernández, Esteban Montenegro Montenegro, Nina Knoll and Ralf Schwarzer

Background:

Self-efficacy, action control, and social support are considered to influence changes in physical activity levels in older adults. This study examines the relationship among these variables and explores the putative mediating and moderating mechanisms that might account for activity changes.

Methods:

A longitudinal study with 54 older adults (≥ 50 years of age) was carried out in Costa Rica. In a moderated mediation analysis, action control was specified as a mediator between self-efficacy and physical activity, whereas social support was specified as a moderator between self-efficacy and action control. Baseline physical activity, age, and sex were specified as covariates.

Results:

Action control mediated between self-efficacy and physical activity. An interaction between social support and self-efficacy on action control pointed to a synergistic effect at the first stage of the mediating process.

Conclusions:

The effect of self-efficacy on physical activity was partly explained by action control, providing evidence of action control as a proximal mediator of physical activity. Moreover, the moderator role of social support was confirmed: high social support appeared to compensate for low levels of self-efficacy.

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Guangyu Zhou, Dongmei Wang, Nina Knoll and Ralf Schwarzer

Background:

Often, motivation to be physically active is a necessary precondition of action but still does not suffice to initiate the target behavior. Instead, motivation needs to be translated into action by a self-regulatory process. Self-efficacy and planning are considered to be useful constructs that help to facilitate such translations.

Objective:

The aim is to examine the roles of motivation, planning, and self-efficacy as well as the mechanisms that operate in the change of physical activity levels.

Methods:

In a longitudinal observation study with 249 young adults, self-efficacy, planning, motivation, and physical activity were assessed at 2 points in time, 3 months apart.

Results:

Planning served as a mediator between self-efficacy and physical activity, controlling for baseline activity. In addition to this indirect effect, a moderator effect was found between self-efficacy and stages of change on planning. The mediation operated only in motivated, but not in unmotivated students.

Conclusions:

A mediation from self-efficacy via planning to physical activity seems to be likely only when people are motivated to become more active.

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Urte Scholz, Falko F. Sniehotta and Ralf Schwarzer

During the process of health behavior change, individuals pass different phases characterized by different demands and challenges that have to be mastered. To overcome these demands successfully, phase-specific self-efficacy beliefs are important. The present study distinguishes between task self-efficacy, maintenance self-efficacy, and recovery self-efficacy. These phase-specific beliefs were studied in a sample of 484 cardiac patients during rehabilitation treatment and at follow-up 2 and 4 months after discharge to predict physical exercise at 4 and 12 months follow-up. The three phase-specific self-efficacies showed sufficient discriminant validity and allowed for differential predictions of intentions and behavior. Persons in the maintenance phase benefited more from maintenance self-efficacy in terms of physical exercise than persons not in the maintenance phase. Those who had to resume their physical exercise after a health related break profited more from recovery self-efficacy in terms of physical exercise than persons who were continuously active. Implications for possible interventions are discussed.

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Lisa M. Warner, Jochen P. Ziegelmann, Benjamin Schüz, Susanne Wurm and Ralf Schwarzer

The purpose of the current study was to examine whether the effects of social support on physical exercise in older adults depend on individual perceptions of self-efficacy. Three hundred nine older German adults (age 65–85) were assessed at 3 points in time (3 months apart). In hierarchical-regression analyses, support received from friends and exercise self-efficacy were specified as predictors of exercise frequency while baseline exercise, sex, age, and physical functioning were controlled for. Besides main effects of self-efficacy and social support, an interaction between social support and self-efficacy emerged. People with low self-efficacy were less likely to be active in spite of having social support. People with low support were less likely to be active even if they were high in self-efficacy. This points to the importance of both social support and self-efficacy and implies that these resources could be targets of interventions to increase older adults’ exercise.