An exploration of health action process approach post-intentional factors and the use of physical activity devices and apps


Physical activity requires long-term participation to reap health benefits. After the formation of behavioural intentions, initiation and maintenance are required. Many individuals who initiate physical activity do not maintain the behaviour (see Marcus 2005). The Health Action Process Approach (HAPA; Schwarzer, 2008) identifies post-intentional processes related to behaviour maintenance. Advances in technology have resulted in numerous devices (e.g., Nike Fuel Band) and APPS (e.g., Endomondo) that could possibly serve to boost post-intentional processes by providing exercisers convenient access to goal-setting, planning and monitoring tools. This study included a cross-sectional comparison of HAPA post-intentional processes among exercisers who do (N=29) and do not (N=76) use physical activity devices or APPS. Adult exercisers completed an online questionnaire assessing use of devices and APPS, HAPA post-intentional processes and physical activity behaviour. Box’s M indicated no significant group difference in covariance matrices (p = .57). A significant multivariate effect was found (Wilks’ Lambda =.84;  F [6, 91] = 2.84, p =.01). Follow-up univariate analyses were calculated with adjusted alpha (p<.008).In the presence of significant Levene’s tests (p<.05), Brown-Forsythe’s F was calculated as a robust measure of group differences. Recovery self-efficacy was greater among exercisers who used tracking devices and APPS compared to those who did not (F [1,96]= 11.41, p = 0.007). There were trends toward differences in maintenance self-efficacy (F [1, 96] = 5.44, p =.02), action control (Brown-Forsythe = 6.08, p =.02) and planning (F [1,96] = 13.84, p =.02). The use of tracking devices and APPS may be related to greater recovery self-efficacy. Tools that boost recovery self-efficacy may be valuable given the likelihood of lapses (see Marcus et al., 2000). Future research should further explore the use of physical activity tracker devices and APPS in relation to post-intentional processes related to long-term physical activity.