Abstract: What Motivates Adolescents to Exercise?

Background:  Exercise is important because of the many health benefits it has on the body, including not only weight, but mental health and body image. Using Nola Pender's Health Promotion Model, which involves looking at the person as a whole, to frame our research, we focused on relationships among exercise and body image, motivation, and depression. 

Methods: This cross-sectional design was used with a convenience sample of 300 adolescents, grades 9 through 12, from three large suburban high schools in northeast Ohio. Variables were measured with the modified Youth Risk Behavior questionnaire, a 51-item instrument that focused on diet, physical activity, sleep, mood, and use of tobacco products.  

Results: There was a weak, indirect correlation between participation on sports teams and feeling down and a moderate, direct correlation between participation on sports teams and number of days being physically active at least 60 minutes. There was a weak direct correlation between BMI and satisfaction with one's body. 

Conclusions: With evidence of fewer number of days feeling down among more physically active adolescents, strategies can be developed to increase their awareness of this benefit and engagement in exercise or team sports.