Becoming a regular exerciser: Examining change in behavioural regulations among exercise initiates

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Objective:A large body of research evidence is accumulating describing aspects of motivation that are associated with persistence with exercise behavior. Relatively little is known, however, about the process of becoming a regular exerciser. That is, how long does it take for the motivational profile of an initiate exerciser to become similar to the motivational profiles that have been associated with enduring exercise behavior?Methods:This paper reports data of program completers from 4 longitudinal studies (Ns = 60, 134, 38, and 84 respectively) describing change in four forms of motivational regulation proposed by self-determination theory among initiate exercisers and compares those initiates to two samples of long-term regular exercisers (Ns = 202 and 1054).Results:The results indicate that patterns of self-determined regulation change over time in ways consistent with self-determination theory. Specifically, there are increases in identified and intrinsic motivation among initiate exercisers that appear to take place within 8 weeks.Conclusions:Final values of identified and intrinsic motivation remain significantly lower than values observed for regular exercisers, even after up to 6 months of exercise.

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