Work Type



Fall 11-2-2019

Faculty Advisor

Danny McMillian PT DSc




Background: Research on correlates and determinants of physical activity has shown that age and motivation are associated with physical activity. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) provides a well-researched framework for understanding motivation, and proposes that the satisfaction of three primary psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness, fuels motivation for physical activity and promotes wellness.

Purpose: Use SDT to identify experiences and beliefs that affect motivation for physical activity in older adults and provide a narrative approach to share their “movement stories.”

Methods: Participants were recruited using nominated sampling and a public advertising campaign. Participants were at least 55-years old with International Physical Activity Questionnaire scores categorizing them as moderately-vigorously active. Data was collected using the Motives for Physical Activities Measure – Revised, Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale – General Measure, and via in-person interviews. Interviews were filmed and narratives created using Adobe. Interview scripts were analyzed by researchers and common themes coded.

Results: Qualitative analysis showed participants expressed higher life satisfaction than frustration. Collectively, statements that expressed motivation were most common for competence (55), relatedness (33), autonomy (28), and interest/enjoyment (27). The least commonly mentioned motivation types were appearance (3) and fitness (13).

Conclusion: Overall, active older adults showed greater satisfaction over frustration with basic psychological needs. Motivational factors influencing PA varied greatly among participants, but they shared many common beliefs and experiences. It was shown that motivation stemmed most strongly from competence, interest, and relatedness and those promoting PA within this age group should focus on these domains.


University of Puget Sound