Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
 
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Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2015) 14, 568 - 573
Research article
Adolescent Self-Reported Physical Activity and Autonomy: A Case for Constrained and Structured Environments?
Jerome N. Rachele, Timo Jaakkola, Tracy L. Washington, Thomas F. Cuddihy, Steven M. McPhail

School of Public Health and Social Work and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Australia

Jerome N. Rachele
✉School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Australia
Email: j.rachele@qut.edu.au

Received:
19-01-2015 -- Accepted: 27-05-2015 --
Published (online): 11-08-2015

ABSTRACT

The provision of autonomy supportive environments that promote physical activity engagement have become popular in contemporary youth settings. However, questions remain about whether adolescent perceptions of their autonomy have implications for physical activity. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the association between adolescents’ self-reported physical activity and their perceived autonomy. Participants (n = 384 adolescents) aged between 12 and 15 years were recruited from six secondary schools in metropolitan Brisbane, Australia. Self-reported measures of physical activity and autonomy were obtained. Logistic regression with inverse probability weights were used to examine the association between autonomy and the odds of meeting youth physical activity guidelines. Autonomy (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.49-0.76) and gender (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.46-0.83) were negatively associated with meeting physical activity guidelines. However, the model explained only a small amount of the variation in whether youth in this sample met physical activity guidelines (R2 = 0.023). For every 1 unit decrease in autonomy (on an index from 1 to 5), participants were 1.64 times more likely to meet physical activity guidelines. The findings, which are at odds with several previous studies, suggest that interventions designed to facilitate youth physical activity should limit opportunities for youth to make independent decisions about their engagement. However, the small amount of variation explained by the predictors in the model is a caveat, and should be considered prior to applying such suggestions in practical settings. Future research should continue to examine a larger age range, longitudinal observational or intervention studies to examine assertions of causality, as well as objective measurement of physical activity.

Key words: Adolescent, autonomy, physical activity, self-determination theory, self-report
Key Points
  • Autonomy was negatively associated with meeting physical activity recommendations
  • The findings suggest that more structured environments would facilitate physical activity
  • The small amount of variation explained by the predictors in the model is a caveat
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    Jerome N. Rachele, Timo Jaakkola, Tracy L. Washington, Thomas F. Cuddihy, Steven M. McPhail, (2015) Adolescent Self-Reported Physical Activity and Autonomy: A Case for Constrained and Structured Environments?. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (14), 568 - 573.

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