Children's Physical Self-Efficacy and Free-Time Physical Activity

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Date
2013-07-18
Authors
Steward, Katelan
Keyword
Social cognitive theory , Physical self-efficacy , Children , Youth , Health , Physical activity
Abstract
The majority of Canadian youth are not obtaining the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. These low activity levels may be partially explained by students’ physical self-efficacy in that cross-sectional research demonstrates a correlation between physical self-efficacy and children’s physical activity; however, school interventions focused on this relationship show limited success. Grounded in Social Cognitive Theory, the purpose of this two-phase mixed method study was to better understand the relationship between Grade 5/6 students’ physical self-efficacy and physical activity levels. In Phase 1 of the study, 243 students from a rural British Columbia school district completed a questionnaire on their physical self-efficacy and free-time physical activity. Results from this survey were analyzed using ANOVA to examine differences in free-time physical activity between groups based on physical self-efficacy, transport to school, access to facilities, and gender. Physical self-efficacy was found to be the only factor to demonstrate significant differences with high self-efficacious students generally participating in more free-time physical activity than low self-efficacious students. For Phase 2 of this study, 10 participants indicating high physical activity levels, .50 SD above the mean, half demonstrating low physical self-efficacy and half demonstrating high physical self-efficacy, were selected for individual interviews to examine rationales for being active. Analysis of these qualitative data revealed similarities and differences between the high and low physical self-efficacy groups in three motivational themes: sources of self-efficacy; sources of pleasure; and personal priorities and ideologies. These findings highlight the complexity of physical activity participation in youth and provide support for interventions that encourage physical self-efficacy enhancement and outcome-expectancy attainment.
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