Physical Self-concept and Participation in Physical Activity in College Students

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The purpose of this study was to test for reciprocal relations between physical self-concept (PSC) and participation in physical activity (PA). We hypothesized specific bidirectional relations between PSC dimensions (i.e., perceived endurance, sport competence, and strength and body attractiveness) and participation in corresponding types of PA (i.e., aerobic exercise, team or individual sports, and strength training).


Data were gathered from a questionnaire administered to 386 college students on two occasions (3-month interval) to assess PSC and participation in PA.


Structural equation modeling revealed significant paths between each PSC dimension and a corresponding type of PA. Students reported more frequent participation in a specific PA when their PSC concerning the activity was high. However, participation in a given PA did not predict subsequent PSC in the corresponding PA, suggesting unidirectional effects of previous PSC on subsequent participation in PA.


These results suggest that strategies that contribute to reinforce PSC are primordial and should be targeted as key components for designing effective PA behavior change interventions among college students.

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