Understanding Exercise Identity and Behavior

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Understanding Exercise Identity, Commitment and Behaviour
Josh Carson
Psychology of Exercise 2276F
Paige Gregson
November 26, 2012

Different relationships influence the way one acts in society. Associating a specific identity with many relationships, or with a particularly strong relationship, increases likelihood that the identity will surface across other situations. Therefore, this commitment (quantitative & qualitative) influences exercise identity. The stronger one’s exercise identity is, the greater one’s exercise habits will be. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between these measures: qualitative & quantitative commitment, exercise identity strength, and exercise behaviour. Participants (N=174, Male = 56, Female = 118) were undergraduate kinesiology students (Mage=20.01 SD= 1.35) in an exercise psychology course. A survey was circulated to consenting individuals during class time, requiring 15 minutes to answer all questions. The survey consisted of questions based upon three measures: The Exercise Identity Scale (Anderson & Cychosz, 1994) a 5 point scale (1-5). Secondly, Burkes & Reitzes’ Commitment Scale (1991) a two part 5 point scale (1-5). The final measure was the Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire (Godin & Shepard, 1985) in which results were measured using arbitrary units, where the higher the score, the better. Data was analyzed using statistical software SPSS 20.0. Exercise identity based questions reported a mean of 3.91 (SD = 0.75). Quantitative commitment questions reported a mean of 2.11 (SD = 0.69). Qualitative commitment questions reported a mean of 3.17 (SD = 1.08). The mean score for the GLTEQ was 64.44 (SD = 29.33). Participants were categorized into four separate groups based upon their exercise habits (ex. 6+ months of regular exercise, intent to begin regular exercise in the next month). It was apparent from the correlations between variables that there was a link between commitment strength and exercise behaviour. Quantitative commitment and qualitative commitment were highly correlated, as were exercise identity and behaviour. Understanding Exercise Identity, Commitment and Behaviour

Many barriers exist to prevent exercise adoption and adherence among a large part of the North American population (Tappe, Duda & Ehrnwald, 1989). People with sedentary tendencies have a more difficult time relating to the lifestyle of their active counterparts. However, numerous benefits are associated with habitual exercise, including: increased energy, improved academic performance, and presentation of many opportunities to form beneficial social relationships. (House, Landis & Umberson, 1988) Research has shown that the number and strength of these relationships can influence the selection of a particular identity. An identity refers to a set of meanings that define who one is when one is an occupant of a particular role in society (Strachan et. al, 2009), in this case, as an exerciser. Commitment refers to the sum of the forces, pressure or drives that influence people to maintain congruity between their identity setting and the input of reflected appraisals from the social setting (Burke & Reitzes, 1991). An identity salient with many different relationships is more likely to be selected. This would reflect the effect of high quantitative commitment. Following a similar pattern, an identity associated with a particularly strong relationship will also be chosen more commonly. This reflects high qualitative commitment. Identity strength can influence an individual’s health behaviour (Leary et al., 1986), specifically, their exercise behaviour (adoption & adherence). The identity that surfaces depends on one’s with relationship with people from a particular setting. Exercise identity and behaviour are often compared, as are commitment quantity and commitment quality. Due to lack of research that includes all three...
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