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Perceived Autonomy Support and Psychological Need Satisfaction in Exercise
Jemma K. Edmunds, PhD
Qowntry University
Nlkos Ntoumanis, PhD, and Joan L. Duda, PhD [University of Birmingham

The links between exercise and improved physical and psychological health EJ. have been well documented (Biddle & Mutrie, 2001). Despite this evidence,
However, physical inactivity is thepredominant lifestyle pattern observed among people living in contemporary industrialized societies (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 1996). To increase the number of people that engage in, and derive the benefits associated with, regular physical activity, it is imperative to understand the factors that underpin exercise adoption and maintenance. Exercise engagement isinfluenced by a variety of biological, environmental, social, and psychological variables (Biddle & Mutrie, 2001). Of these, (lie social-environmental and psychological determinants of exercise behavior ii pi tear to be those factors that practicing health and fitness professionals may n lost easily target with intervention strategies. However, before exercise-focused behavioral interventions aredesigned and implemented, the psychological processes that contribute to active engagement must be better understood, as well us the social-environmental conditions that foster their development.
The Self-Determination Perspective in Exercise
Self-determination theory holds promise for elucidating the specifically motivational factors influencing physical activity participation and the associatedpsychological and emotional benefits (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, this volume). A growing body of research evidence is emerging to suggest support for self-determination theory’s propositions within the exercise setting. For example, autonomy support from friends (e.g., Wilson & Rodgers, 2004) and satisfaction of the basic psychological needs (Wilson, Rodgers, Blanchard, &Gessell, 2003; Wilson, Rodgers, & Fraser, 2002) have been shown to be positively associated with the most self-determined forms of motivational regulation. Autonomous regulation has also been associated with the action and maintenance stages of change for exercise (Landry & Solomon, 2004; Mullan & Markland, 1997), more frequent self-reported exercise behavior (Wilson, Rodgers, & Fraser,2002), greater physical fitness (Wilson et al., 2003), more positive attitudes toward exercise (Wilson et al., 2003), behavioral intentions to continue exercising (Wilson & Rodgers, 2004), and exercise-related selfesteem (Wilson & Rodgers, 2002). •
This chapter presents a series of studies that extend previous research examining the utility of the basic theoretical propositions ofself-determination theory in the exercise domain. The chapter focuses specifically on the role of autonomy support and psychological need satisfaction in fostering adaptive motivational regulations and, subsequently, optimal behavioral, cognitive, and affective aspects of the exercise experience. First, we discuss the relationships between autonomy support, psychological need satisfaction, autonomousregulation, and adaptive exercise behavior as determined from research that used meditational models to test and explain the processes involved in these relationships. Next, we present data on the role of thwarted need satisfaction and controlling forms of regulation in the prediction of maladaptive exer-1 cise engagement. We also examine the applicability of the basic needs and motivationalregulations proposed by self-determination theory in predicting variations in cognitive and affective responses across different ethnic groups in group exercise settings.
In addition, we present the results of the first experimental study in the area of exercise that has addressed the effect of an experimentally induced autonomy- supportive instructor style on exercise class participants’ psychological...
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