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Preparing for Physical Activity: Pedometer Acquisition as a Self-regulatory Strategy

Authors


 Address for corrrespondence: Milena Koring, Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Health Psychology, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany. Email: milena.koring@fu-berlin.de

Abstract

When people intend and plan to perform higher levels of physical activity, they do not start on impulse without preparing. Thus, preparation is a behavioral construct positioned between planning and target behavior. This may be reflected by the acquisition of sports equipment as well as monitoring devices such as pedometers. The research questions are who takes such preparatory action, whether picking up a complimentary pedometer can be predicted by self-efficacy and outcome expectancies, and whether this kind of preparatory action facilitates subsequent physical activity. A longitudinal physical activity survey was conducted with 143 university students who were offered a complimentary pedometer. Collecting this free gift served as indicator of preparatory behavior. Outcome expectancies and self-efficacy beliefs were specified as predictors of this behavior. Two weeks later, physical activity differences between the groups were determined. Collecting the pedometer was associated with higher levels of physical activity at follow-up. Outcome expectancies failed to predict the pedometer collection, but self-efficacy did. An interaction between these two factors indicated that self-efficacy compensated for low outcome expectancies. Pedometer acquisition signifies a preparatory action that is facilitated by self-efficacy. Positioned between planning and target behavior, they constitute a proximal self-regulatory step towards health behavior change.

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