Predicting accelerometer-based physical activity in physical education and total physical activity: The Self-determination Theory approach


  • Arto Gråstén University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Sami Yli-Piipari University of Georgia, United States
  • Mikko Huhtiniemi University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Kasper Salin University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Sanni Seppälä University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Jukka Lahti University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Harto Hakonen LIKES Research Center, Finland
  • Timo Jaakkola University of Jyväskylä, Finland



Psychological needs, Exercise motivation, School, Structural equation modelling


The present study tested the motivational model of physical education (PE) including needs for competence, autonomy, social relatedness, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, in-class moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and total MVPA. Participants were 490 (264 girls, 226 boys) Finnish elementary school students. The data were collected using accelerometers and questionnaires for a seven-day period during the fall semester 2017. The key findings were that 1) social relatedness associated with total MVPA via in-class MVPA in girls, whereas competence was linked to in-class MVPA through extrinsic motivation in boys, 2) competence was positively linked to extrinsic motivation in a similar way in both girls and boys, 3) social relatedness and in-class MVPA were positively associated with total MVPA in both girls and boys, 4) competence, autonomy, and relatedness were positively linked to intrinsic motivation in girls when only competence and autonomy were related to intrinsic motivation in boys, and 5) in-class MVPA contributed 36% of total weekly MVPA minutes in the present sample. Although the indirect relationships between study variables did not fully support the existing PE motivational model, the direct associations showed that needs of competence, autonomy, relatedness could be promoted in PE classes to support intrinsic motivation, and total MVPA.


The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, The Otto A. Malm Foundation, Finland.


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How to Cite

Gråstén, A., Yli-Piipari, S., Huhtiniemi, M., Salin, K., Seppälä, S., Lahti, J., Hakonen, H., & Jaakkola, T. (2019). Predicting accelerometer-based physical activity in physical education and total physical activity: The Self-determination Theory approach. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 14(4), 757–771.



Physical Education / Children & Exercise