Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Jody Langdon

Committee Member 1

Daniel Czech

Committee Member 2

Bridget Melton


During the transition from childhood to adulthood, young people establish patterns of behavior and make lifestyle choices that affect both their current and future health (NCHS, 2010). Emerging adulthood – a new conception of development for the period from the late teens through the twenties – focuses on individuals ages 18-25 who did not have a child, own a home, or have sufficient income to be fully independent (Arnett, 2000). Very little is known about social influence, motivational mediators, and motivation on exercise behavior within this developmental period. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence of constructs from self-determination theory (SDT) and transtheoretical model (TTM) on the development and maintenance of exercise behavior in emerging adulthood. Using logistic regression techniques, this study investigated the influence of SDT and TTM constructs on meeting the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for American among emerging adults (USDHHS, 2008). As part of the analysis, indirect parental influences on exercise behavior were also explored. Four-hundred and thirty-five (N=435) emerging-adult participants from a southeastern university completed the study assessing their basic psychological needs in exercise, self-regulation motivation in exercise, stage-of-exercise adherence, and current activity level; indirect parental influences on exercise behavior were also explored. Several factors significantly predicted whether or not emerging adults were meeting 2008 Guidelines: high levels of total perceived competence in exercise, moderate-high levels of relatedness satisfaction in exercise, moderate levels of intrinsic motivation to exercise, being in action stage of change for exercise adherence, and having an influential parental figure/s meeting 2008 Guidelines. Significant probabilities emerged describing the likelihood of emerging adults meeting 2008 Guidelines (meeting Guidelines associated with substantial and/or extensive health benefits).