Association of physical activity on exercise motivation and body mass index among university students

Keywords: body mass index, exercise motivation, physical activity, intrinsic motivation


Background and Study Aim. Motivation as a psychological feature that arouses and energizes people to action towards physical activity and makes them sustain to a physically active behavior. Motivation leads to increased participation in physical activity.  The objective of this study was to determine the association of physical activity to exercise motivation of university students at different levels of body mass index. Material and Methods. 140 undergraduate students Mean age 19±0.70 years randomly categorized into underweight <18.5 kg/m2 [n= 37: 26.4%]; normal-weight 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 [n= 31: 22.1%]; obese ≥30.00 kg/m2 [n=37: 26.4%] and obese class III ≥40.00 kg/m2 [n=35: 25%]. Exercise motivation measured through BREQ-2. Results. ANOVA revealed highly significant difference among BMI categories on intrinsic regulation (p=0.007<.05) and identified regulation (p=0.006<.05). Obese class III students differed on external regulation (p=0.003) and introjected regulations (p=0.011). The association of physical activity to exercise motivation revealed that students who engaged more time in physical activities had significantly higher scores on identified regulation (p < 0.05) and intrinsic regulation (p < 0.01). Conclusions. The results suggested that university students in all BMI categories were internally motivated. The normal weight students exhibited high intrinsic and identified regulation, which reflected as better autonomous motivation. Physical activity had strong association with intrinsic regulation and identified regulation. Obese class students exhibited higher degree of extrinsic motivation and amotivation. Students who engaged more time in physical activity had better intrinsic motivation.


Download data is not yet available.

| Abstract views: 179 | PDF Downloads: 91 |

Author Biographies

Varghese C. Antony, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals; King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Kaukab Azeem, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals; King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia


1. Tsorbatzoudis H, Alexandres K, Zahariadis P, Grouios G. Examining the relationship between recreational sport participation and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and amotivation. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 2006;103(2):363–74.

2. Paluska SA, Schwenk TL. Physical activity and mental health. Sports Medicine. 2000;29(3):167–80.

3. Cardinal BJ. Quality College and University Instructional Physical Activity Programs Contribute to Mens Sana in Corpore Sano , “The Good Life,” and Healthy Societies. Quest, 2017;69:531–41.

4. Kilpatrick M, Hebert E, Bartholomew J. College students' motivation for physical activity: differentiating men's and women's motives for sport participation and exercise. Journal of American College Health. 2005;54(2):87–94. 94.

5. Roberts GC. Understanding the dynamics of motivation in physical activity: The influence of achievement goals on motivational processes. Advances in Motivation in Sport and Exercise. 2001;3:1–50.

6. Ryan RM, Deci EL. Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist. 2000;55(1):68.

7. Ntoumanis N, Standage M. Motivation in physical education classes: A self-determination theory perspective. Theory and Research in Education. 2009;7(2):194–202.

8. Sun H, Chen A. Pedagogical understanding of the self-determination theory in physical education. Quest. 2010;62(4):364–84.

9. Yang JY. Effects of participation in a summer sports camp on at-risk boys: A self-determination theory perspective. [Doctoral dissertation]. 2014.

10. Yang JY, Kim HY. Relationships of psychological needs perceived by students participating in university physical education class with their motivational regulations. The Korean Society of Sports Science. 2016; 25(6): 899–909.

11. Bryan CL, Solmon MA. Self-determination in physical education: Designing class environments to promote active lifestyles. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education. 2007;26(3):260–78.

12. Standage M, Gillison FB, Ntoumanis N, Treasure DC. Predicting students’ physical activity and health-related well-being: A prospective cross-domain investigation of motivation across school physical education and exercise settings. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 2012;34(1):37–60.

13. Yang JY. Research for Initiative Games: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective. Journal of the Korean Society of Sports Science. 2016;25(1):869–87.

14. World Health Organization. Healthy diet. World Health Organization. Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean; [Internet]. 2019. [updated 2019 Jun 15; cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from:

15. Grasdalsmoen M, Eriksen HR, Lønning KJ, Sivertsen B. Physical exercise and body-mass index in young adults: a national survey of Norwegian university students. BMC Public Health. 2019 Dec;19(1):1– 9.

16. An K-Y. Physical activity level in Korean adults: the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017. Epidemiol Health, 2019;41:e2019047.

17. Vaara JP, Vasankari T, Koski HJ, Kyröläinen H. Awareness and knowledge of physical activity recommendations in young adult men. Frontiers in Public Health. 2019;7:310.

18. Gao Z, Chen S, Sun H, Wen X, Xiang P. Physical Activity in Children’s Health and Cognition. BioMed Research International, 2018;2018:1–4.

19. Yang JY. A serial path model between autonomous motivation, behavioral intention, action planning, and after school physical activity of university students participating in Physical Education classes. Cognition, Brain, Behavior, 2020;24:315–33.

20. World Health Organization, Obesity and Overweight, Fact Sheet no. 311. [Internet]. 2018. [updated 2019 Jun 15; cited 2019 Nov 5]. Available from:

21. DeNicola E, Aburizaiza OS, Siddique A, Khwaja H, Carpenter DO. Obesity and public health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Reviews on Environmental Health. 2015;30(3):191–205.

22. Jongenelis MI, Scully M, Morley B, Pratt IS, Slevin T. Physical activity and screen-based recreation: Prevalence and trends over time among adolescents and barriers to recommended engagement. Preventive Medicine. 2018;106:66–72.

23. Memish ZA, El Bcheraoui C, Tuffaha M, Robinson M, Daoud F, Jaber S, et al. Obesity and Associated Factors — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2013. Prev Chronic Dis, 2014;11:140236.

24. Bin HG, Al-Khashan HI, Mishriky AM, Selim MA, AlNowaiser N, BinSaeed AA, et al. Prevalence of obesity among military personnel in Saudi Arabia and associated risk factors. Saudi Medical Journal. 2013;34(4):401.

25. Al-Hazzaa HM, Abahussain NA, Al-Sobayel HI, Qahwaji DM, Musaiger AO. Lifestyle factors associated with overweight and obesity among Saudi adolescents. BMC Public Health, 2012;12:354.

26. Al-Rethaiaa AS, Fahmy A-EA, Al-Shwaiyat NM. Obesity and eating habits among college students in Saudi Arabia: a cross sectional study. Nutrition journal, 2010;9:39.

27. Antony VC, Tomar R. A comparative analysis of participation motivation to physical activity and sports among university students. J Sport and Health. 2016;7(1):2–13.

28. Buckworth J, Nigg C. Physical activity, exercise, and sedentary behavior in college students. Journal of American College Health. 2004;53(1):28–34.

29. Calfas KJ, Sallis JF, Lovato CY, Campbell J. Physical activity and its determinants before and after college graduation. Medicine, Exercise, Nutrition, and Health. 1994;3:323–334.

30. Lavie CJ, Laddu D, Arena R, Ortega FB, Alpert MA, Kushner RF. Healthy weight and obesity prevention: JACC health promotion series. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2018;72(13):1506–31.

31. Markland D, Tobin V. A modification to the behavioural regulation in exercise questionnaire to include an assessment of amotivation. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 2004;26(2):191–6.

32. Power TG, Ullrich-French SC, Steele MM, Daratha KB, Bindler RC. Obesity, cardiovascular fitness, and physically active adolescents’ motivations for activity: A self-determination theory approach. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 2011;12(6):593–8.

33. Hwang J, Kim YH. Physical activity and its related motivational attributes in adolescents with different BMI. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2013;20(1):106–13.

34. Landry JB, Sdmon MA. Self-determination theory as an organizing framework to investigate women's physical activity behavior. Quest. 2002;;54(4):332–54.

35. Pelletier LG, Fortier MS, Vallerand RJ, Briere NM. Associations among perceived autonomy support, forms of self-regulation, and persistence: A prospective study. Motivation and Emotion. 2001;25(4):279–306.

36. Frederick CM, Morrison C, Manning T. Motivation to participate, exercise affect, and outcome behaviors toward physical activity. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1996;82(2):691–701.

37. Wilson PM, Rodgers WM, Fraser SN, Murray TC. Relationships between exercise regulations and motivational consequences in university students. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2004;75(1):81–91.

38. Haerens L, Kirk D, Cardon G, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Vansteenkiste M. Motivational profiles for secondary school physical education and its relationship to the adoption of a physically active lifestyle among university students. European Physical Education Review. 2010;16(2):117–39.

39. Ntoumanis N. A Prospective Study of Participation in Optional School Physical Education Using a Self-Determination Theory Framework. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2005;97:444–53.

40. Espinoza S, Walston JD. Frailty in older adults: insights and interventions. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 2005;72:1105–12.

41. Yen JK, Bharathi M, Arun B. Comparative study on differences in lung parameter between the obese and non-obese collegiate sedentary students. Bangladesh Journal of Medical Science. 2018;17(3):351–4.
How to Cite
Antony V, Azeem K. Association of physical activity on exercise motivation and body mass index among university students. Physical education of students. 2021;25(2):129-35.