Needs satisfaction, self-determined motivation and health-enhancing physical activity

Desmond McEwan, Shane N. Sweet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous studies have assessed physical activity participation from a self-determination theory perspective. However, no study has yet determined whether individuals who engage in sufficient physical activity to obtain substantial health benefits (i.e., health-enhancing physical activity or HEPA) differ from those who do not engage in such physical activity in terms of their motivational regulations and psychological needs satisfaction. Purpose: The primary purpose of the current study was to determine whether differences in motivation and psychological needs satisfaction exist between individuals who engage in HEPA and those who do not. Secondarily, we assessed whether each of the motivational regulations would mediate the relationships between needs satisfaction and HEPA. Method: The study employed a cross-sectional design, as 332 participants completed questionnaires assessing their psychological needs satisfaction, motivation to exercise, and self-reported physical activity. Results: As hypothesized, in comparison to the minimally active group, the HEPA group showed significantly greater levels of identified, integrated, and intrinsic regulations; lower levels of external regulation; and greater satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Simultaneous multiple mediator analyses revealed that external and integrated regulation mediated the autonomy HEPA relationship, as well as the relatedness HEPA relationship; the relationship between competence and HEPA was only mediated by external regulation. Conclusion: These results support self-determination theory by demonstrating that individuals who participate in HEPA have higher levels in the theorys key variables. In addition, the process by which to increase the likelihood of participating in HEPA was also partially supported.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-17
JournalHealth and Fitness Journal of Canada
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2012


  • physical activity
  • self-determination theory
  • relatedness
  • competence
  • autonomy
  • exercise
  • Exercise behaviour change
  • health


Dive into the research topics of 'Needs satisfaction, self-determined motivation and health-enhancing physical activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this