Work Type



Fall 2022

Faculty Advisor

Danny McMillian PT, DSc




Background: Physical activity (PA) guidelines describe positive correlations between PA and health outcomes. Self-determination theory (SDT) was used to identify motivational factors crucial to a physically active lifestyle.

Purpose: Identify and analyze how motivational characteristics, fulfillment of psychological needs, and individual experiences/beliefs influence PA.

Methods: Participants defined as moderately to vigorously physically active by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire were recruited using nominated sampling and public advertising. Motivational characteristics and psychological needs were assessed using SDT, Motives for Physical Activities Measure – Revised (MPAM-R), and The Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale – General (BPNSF). Semi-structured interviews were recorded and transcribed for investigators to independently code operationally defined thematic statements and then jointly discuss consensus for final codes.

Results: Qualitative analysis showed participants expressed higher life satisfaction (41) than frustration (19). Frequency of statements that expressed motivation included: competence (60), relatedness (35), autonomy (34), interest/enjoyment (34), fitness (12), and appearance (8). The MPAM-R survey revealed interest/enjoyment = 6.2, competence = 6.0, fitness = 6.0, appearance = 5.1, social = 3.9. The BPNSF survey revealed satisfaction was significantly greater than frustration with a large effect size for each psychological need (Autonomy n = 20, p = .05, z = -3.89, r = .87; Competence n = 20, p = .05, z = -4.0, r = .89; Relatedness n = 20, p = .05, z = -3.90, r = .87).

Conclusion: Physically active undergraduate students showed greater satisfaction than frustration. Students also shared common beliefs such as a desire for lifelong PA. Motivation stemmed highest from competence, followed by relatedness, interest, and autonomy.


University of Puget Sound