Relatedness, Motivation, and Exercise Behavior Across Various Exercise Modalities

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Gilliland, Kolbie
Washburn University
Department of Psychology
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Exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle. It is vital to examine motivation to exercise and the impact of three basic psychological needs (autonomy, competency, and relatedness) on this motivation. While competency and autonomy have consistently impacted motivation to exercise, information regarding relatedness and group cohesion is lacking. The present study examined the relationship between exercise modalities, the fulfillment of basic psychological needs, and the motivation to exercise. Participants completed surveys assessing exercise behavior, fulfillment of basic psychological needs (PNSE), degree of motivation to exercise (BREQ), relatedness to others (ROPAS), and group cohesion and integration (PAGEQ). Competency (r=.49, p<.01) and relatedness (r=.52, p<.01) were positively correlated with internalized levels of motivation. Exercise frequency (r=.34, p<.01) and intensity (r=.24, p<.05) also positively correlated with internalized motivation. Relatedness (r=.382, p<.01) and group cohesion (r=.40, p<.01) were positively correlated with internalized motivation. Individuals in group exercise classes, especially CrossFit, reported significantly higher levels of competency (F(2, 99) = 3.22, p=.044, ω=.204), general relatedness (F(2, 99) = 5.35, p=.006, ω=.280), relatedness to others in exercise (F(2, 99) = 9.25 , p=.000, ω=.373), group cohesion (F(2, 99) = 3.22 , p=.044, ω=.204), group integration (F(2, 99) = 9.94 , p=.000, ω=.386) frequency of exercise (F(2, 99) = 3.12 , p= .049, ω=.200), and intensity of exercise (F(2, 99) = 4.811 , p= .010, ω=.264) compared to individuals exercising alone. Differences in motivation approached significance (p=.052). Findings support efforts toward group exercise promotion as a potential way to sustain exercise behavior in that relatedness and group cohesion in community exercise facilities may increase motivation to exercise.