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