Influence and interpretation of intrinsic and extrinsic exercise motives

Andrea Ednie, Michael Stibor


This study explores the relationships between, and perceptions of, various exercise motivations and exercise adherence. The application of self-determination theory to exercise motivations research has demonstrated the importance of intrinsic motivations, however, the influence of extrinsic motivations has not been thoroughly examined. This study placed exercise motive perceptions along the Organismic Integration Theory’s (OIT) spectrum of motivations, and identified associations between those interpretations and exercise adherence. Participants (812 college students) completed an online survey detailing their exercise motivations and participation. The Exercise Motivations Inventory-2 (EMI-2) was used to measure exercise motivations, and participants provided open-ended explanations for their ratings of each motivational sub-construct. Total exercise scores were calculated by assigning MET values to exercise bouts using the Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire. Multiple regression analyses revealed stress management, enjoyment, competition, and weight management as predictors of exercise, and appearance as a negative predictor for females. Analysis of the open-ended motive explanations found participants held diverse perspectives on the health, appearance, weight management, and fitness motivations. The varying interpretations of health and appearance motives ranged across the OIT. Based on motivation theory, they may be conducive to the process of internalization, meaning they may develop into more intrinsic motivations as participants achieve goals and develop a sense of value for the exercise activities. Additional patterns were identified that require further research, including a gap between genders with respect to exercise enjoyment, and the difference between weight management and appearance as predictors of exercise adherence.  




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