Psychology of Sport and Exercise vol:15 issue:3 pages:247-254
Objectives: The present study tested a motivational sequence in which children's goals for leisure-time sport and physical activity (PA) from Goal Content Theory predicted pedometerdetermined PA through behavioural regulation constructs from the Self-Determination Theory.
Design: Quantitative cross-sectional study.
Method: A sample of 1,272 Flemish (Dutch speaking part of Belgium) sixth graders (M age = 11.42 years) filled in a questionnaire on PA goal content, behavioural regulations and pubertal status. Children's height and weight were measured to assess Body Mass Index (BMI). To measure daily PA behaviour, participants wore a pedometer for seven consecutive days. Structural equation modelling was performed to test the proposed motivational sequence and to examine the mediation effect of behavioural regulations towards leisure-time sport and PA on the relation between PA goal content and daily step counts.
Results: A structural equation model supported the hypothesized sequence in which intrinsic goals for leisure-time sport and PA predicted children's daily step counts through autonomous motivation towards leisure-time sport and PA. Multi-sample invariance testing revealed that the proposed model was largely invariant across BMI groups, pubertal status and gender.
Conclusion: The findings highlight the importance of emphasizing intrinsic goals for participation in leisure-time sport and PA in children aged 10-12 years. By stimulating children to participate in PA and sports by referring to intrinsic goals, children are more likely to enjoy PA, which in turn might increase the likelihood of a regular and long-term PA engagement.