"Our findings highlight the need for health promotion programs to enhance people%u2019s confidence and motivation, as well as providing education on the health benefits of physical activity," said Pan. In interviews, participants were asked, for example, about their level of confidence in being able to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise three or four times a week or 60 minutes of light exercise a day.
A high self-efficacy score correlated with higher physical activity (PA) levels regardless of gender, age, education level and income level. "Confidence in one's personal ability to carry out exercise plays a central role in the direction, intensity and persistence of health-behavior change," the authors stated. "People who have higher PA self-efficacy will perceive fewer barriers to PA, or be less influenced by them, and will be more likely to enjoy PA."
Participants were also asked about their intention to pursue exercise over the following six months. As with self-efficacy, a high intention score correlated with a high likelihood of engaging in exercise. The fact that self-confidence and motivation have such sway in people's pursuit of exercise suggests that, to get more people exercising, programs should be undertaken that target the strengthening of these factors.
"Future research," the authors said, "is needed to identify how those influences can be optimally incorporated into interventions that will increase people's belief in their ability and motivation/intention to be physically active."