PURPOSE: Guided by Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986), this study is designed to investigate the relationships between urban Latino children's exercise motivation and their daily physical activity (PA) levels and examine gender differences between these variables as well.
METHODS: The participants were 120 urban Latino school children (68 4th graders, 52 5th graders; 66 boys, 54 girls) recruited from a public elementary school in the Mountain West Region and the majority of them came from economically disadvantaged families. The participants completed standardized questionnaires assessing their exercise motivation (perceived self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, social support, and physical and social environmental factor) and daily PA levels at the end of the school year. Correlation and multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the relationships between children's exercise motivation and self-reported daily PA levels. A One way MANOVA was used to examine gender difference of the study variables.
RESULTS: Correlation analyses indicated that children's self-efficacy, social support, and physical and social environmental factor were positively related to their PA levels (r =.21 -.43, p <.05 for all). Children's self-efficacy was moderately related to outcome expectancy and social support (r =.26, p <.01 for both). There was also a positive relationship between social support and physical and social environmental factor (r =.43, p <.01). Regression analyses further yielded that children's self-efficacy (b =.30) and social support (b =.36) emerged as significant contributors of their daily PA levels, explaining 8.9% and 12.2% of the variance respectively. However, outcome expectancy and physical and social environmental factor failed to predict PA levels. The MANOVA indicated that there was no significant main effect for gender, Wilks' Lambda =.95, F (5, 114) = 1.24, p =.30, h2 =.15.
CONCLUSIONS: The results substantiate the notion that self-efficacy and social support are critical determinants of children' exercise behavior. Also, no gender differences emerged on urban Latino children's exercise motivation and PA levels in this study. The findings were discussed in regard to the implications for practice and areas for future research.