Effects of Sex, Race, and Age on College Students’ Exercise Motivation of Physical Activity

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Journal of American College Health




Objective: The authors examined differences in exercise motivation between age, sex, and race for college students.

Participants: Students from 156 sections of physical activity classes at a midsize university were recruited (n = 2,199; 1,081 men, 1,118 women) in 2005–2006 and volunteered to complete the Exercise Motivation Inventory.

Methods: Quantitative, cross-sectional descriptive research design was employed.

Results: Significant differences were found in 3 of 14 exercise motivational subscales by age (affiliation, health pressures, and ill health avoidance) (p< .05). Males were motivated by intrinsic factors (strength, competition, and challenge) (p < .05) and females by extrinsic factors (ie, weight management and appearance) (p < .05); only 2 subscales proved not to be significant by sex. Race differences provided 8 significant differences by exercise motivations (p < .05).

Conclusions: Significant differences for exercise motivations in college-aged population by demographics were documented. Understanding these differences is important for college health professionals for programming strategies and promoting physical activity.