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Article

A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Motivation for Physical Activity and Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Children Aged 8–12 Years: The Role of Autonomous Motivation

1
Deakin Child Study Centre, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
2
Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
3
Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, 00135 Rome, Italy
4
The Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation (IMPACT), School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(15), 5584; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17155584
Received: 3 June 2020 / Revised: 24 July 2020 / Accepted: 28 July 2020 / Published: 3 August 2020
While motivation for physical activity (PA) and PA participation have been linked, research on the relationship between motivation for PA and mental health outcomes is scant, with studies involving children largely underrepresented. Grounded in self-determination theory, this cross-sectional study aimed to determine whether autonomous motivation versus external motivation (a form of controlled motivation) for PA is associated with fewer emotional and behavioural difficulties and higher levels of PA in children. A sample of 87 children (aged 8–12 years) were recruited from five primary schools in Victoria, Australia. An adapted version of the Behavioural Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ) was used to measure motivation for PA and structured parent-report questions were used to assess moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) levels. Parents also completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to measure children’s emotional and behavioural difficulties. Children’s autonomous motivation was associated with fewer emotional and behavioural difficulties (β = −0.25, p = 0.038) and higher levels of MVPA (β = 0.24, p = 0.014). These results indicate autonomous motivation is associated with improved mental health outcomes and higher levels of PA in children. Thus, PA interventions that promote autonomous motivation may enhance children’s mental health compared to interventions that promote mainly controlled forms of motivation. View Full-Text
Keywords: physical activity; children; motivation; autonomous motivation; mental health physical activity; children; motivation; autonomous motivation; mental health
MDPI and ACS Style

Farmer, E.; Papadopoulos, N.; Emonson, C.; Fuelscher, I.; Pesce, C.; McGillivray, J.; Hyde, C.; Olive, L.; Rinehart, N. A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Motivation for Physical Activity and Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Children Aged 8–12 Years: The Role of Autonomous Motivation. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 5584. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17155584

AMA Style

Farmer E, Papadopoulos N, Emonson C, Fuelscher I, Pesce C, McGillivray J, Hyde C, Olive L, Rinehart N. A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Motivation for Physical Activity and Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Children Aged 8–12 Years: The Role of Autonomous Motivation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(15):5584. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17155584

Chicago/Turabian Style

Farmer, Erin, Nicole Papadopoulos, Chloe Emonson, Ian Fuelscher, Caterina Pesce, Jane McGillivray, Christian Hyde, Lisa Olive, and Nicole Rinehart. 2020. "A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Motivation for Physical Activity and Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Children Aged 8–12 Years: The Role of Autonomous Motivation" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 15: 5584. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17155584

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