Objective: The objective of this prospective study was to clarify the mechanism by which BMI influences leisure-time physical activity. This was achieved in accordance with the assumptions underlying the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), considered as one of the most useful theories to predict behavior adoption.

Methods and Procedures: At baseline, a sample of 1,530 respondents completed a short questionnaire to measure intention and perceived behavioral control (PBC), the two proximal determinants of behavior of TPB. Past behavior, sociodemographic variables, and weight and height were also assessed. The dependent variable, leisure-time physical activity was assessed 3 months later.

Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that BMI is a direct predictor of future leisure-time physical activity, not mediated by the variables of TPB. Additional hierarchical analyses indicated that BMI was not a moderator of the intention-behavior and PBC-behavior relationships.

Discussion: The results of this study suggest that high BMI is a significant negative determinant of leisure-time physical activity. This observation reinforces the importance of preventing weight gain as a health promotion strategy for avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.