Concurrent Management of Exercise and Other Valued Life Goals: A Focus on Self-Regulatory Efficacy
Jung, Mary Elizabeth
While being physically active is an important and valued goal for many individuals, family, work, school, and friends are also valued aspects of their lives. Many social cognitive theories examine health behaviours in isolation, without taking into consideration the context, or life circumstances, in which people seek to achieve such health behaviours. Examining a single goal-directed behaviour without acknowledging the possible influence of other concurrent goals managed by an individual may oversimplify the self-regulation needed in daily life. The overarching purpose of this dissertation was to examine exercise behaviour in the context of concurrently held, valued non-exercise activities (e.g., academics, family). Relationships between valued non-exercise goals, concurrent self-regulatory efficacy, and physical activity behaviour were explored. Social cognitive theory provided the theoretical framework for the three studies conducted. Study 1 sought to discriminate university students whose physical activity level was either commensurate or not with achieving health benefits using social-cognitive predictors. These predictors took into account participants’ beliefs about the concurrent management of physical activity with other valued non-exercise goals. Results indicated that concurrent self-regulatory efficacy (belief in abilities to self-regulate the management of multiple goals including exercise) discriminated those active enough to achieve health benefits from those who were not active enough. Study 2 used a prospective design to explore potential mechanisms that allow individuals to successfully self-regulate exercise behaviour with other goals during hectic times. Undergraduate students were observed during a 4-week examination period where they faced greater than usual challenges to exercising regularly. Concurrent self-regulatory efficacy was identified as a partial mediator of the relationship between value of an exercise goal and future exercise behaviour, and this effect was stable during this challenging period of time. Study 3 used a randomized experimental design to test the social cognitive theory hypothesis that individuals with greater concurrent self-regulatory efficacy would persevere with exercise to a greater extent when facing numerous exercise barriers than their lower efficacy counterparts. Forty-nine busy working mothers with young children who were exercisers or wanted to exercise comprised the study sample. Participants either high or low in concurrent self-regulatory efficacy were exposed to numerous or minimal exercise barrier scenarios. Consistent with social cognitive theory, when exercise barriers were numerous, mothers with higher concurrent self-regulatory efficacy demonstrated greater perseverance towards achieving their exercise goals, and perceived the concurrent management of exercise along with their other valued life goals as more positively challenging, than did mothers with lower concurrent self-regulatory efficacy. Taken together, these results provide preliminary support for the utility of using social cognitive theory to examine beliefs about concurrent self-regulation of exercise along with other valued non-exercise goals when studying exercise behaviour. Future directions and applications to theory are discussed.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
DepartmentCollege of Kinesiology
ProgramCollege of Kinesiology
CommitteeKowalski, Kent; Gammage, Kimberly; Spink, Kevin; Rodgers, Wendy; Gyurcsik, Nancy; Goodridge, Donna