Examining the relationship between motivation and the physical activity behaviour of Canadian youth with physical disabilities


Youth with physical disabilities are less physically active than their typically developing peers, warranting the need to examine factors that influence their physical activity (PA) behaviour. Self-Determination Theory holds that behaviour is motivated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Research indicates that intrinsic motivation is a powerful factor predicting PA behaviour among youth and adults without disabilities, but remains unexplored in youth with physical disabilities. The current study examined the associations between different types of motivation and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) in youth with physical disabilities. As part of a larger ongoing national study examining the current PA trends of Canadian youth (ages 12 – 21 years) with physical disabilities, participants (N=18; Mage=16.96 ± 2.10 years, 50% male) completed the Behavioural Regulations in Exercise Questionnaire 3 (BREQ-3), and wore an accelerometer over a 7-day period. Correlation analyses were conducted to determine the relationships between each subscale of the BREQ-3 and MVPA. Nonsignificant, small- to moderate-sized correlations were found between MVPA and all six forms of regulation (rs= -.07 to .37, all ps > .05), with the strongest relationships shown between MVPA and integrated regulation (r=.37, p=.21), and amotivation (r=-.34, p=.25). This is the first study to examine the relationship between motivation and PA in youth with physical disabilities. These effect sizes are promising and warrant the continued investigation of this relationship in a larger sample. These findings would provide insight on which types of motivation are important factors related to the PA behaviour of this population, which can then be targeted in PA interventions.