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.
The authors are with the Dept. of Health Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany.