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Keywords:

  • correlational cross-sectional design;
  • empirical research report;
  • exercise;
  • female nurses;
  • motivation;
  • questionnaires;
  • self-efficacy

Aim.  This paper presents a study to ascertain the relationship between exercise participation and selected personal factors, perceived benefits of and barriers to exercise, perceived self-efficacy, perceived social support, job demands and motivation. Factors that were the best predictors of exercise participation among Thai female hospital nurses were examined.

Background.  Although current evidence demonstrates positive outcomes from participation in exercise, most individuals do not engage in regular exercise. Perceptions of benefits have been shown to facilitate adoption of exercise. If individuals do not perceive their health to be threatened, they may not see the need to exercise, even though they may believe that exercise improves health. Perceived barriers to exercise, including work, lack of social support, inaccessibility of exercise facilities, the cost of exercise, lack of energy and health reasons also have been shown to affect participation in exercise. Most studies have found that perceived self-efficacy and social support were statistically significant predictors of exercise participation, especially social support from family and friends.

Methods.  A correlational cross-sectional study was conducted at a hospital located in Thailand. Social cognitive theory and the Health Promotion Model guided this study. Thai language translations of the questionnaire were distributed to all Thai female nurses. The data were collected in 2002.

Results.  The response was 87% and resulted in 970 completed questionnaires. There was a statistically significant relationship between exercise participation and the set of selected personal factors, perceived benefits of and barriers to exercise, perceived self-efficacy, and perceived social support (r2 = 0·17, P < 0·0001). The addition of job demands and its interactions did not contribute statistically significantly to the prediction of exercise participation. The addition of motivation contributed statistically significantly to the prediction of exercise participation, t(947, 0·975) = 2·81, P < 0·01 (two-tailed). Not all variables included in the models were statistically significant independent predictors of exercise participation.

Conclusions.  The results indicate that increased exercise participation is dependent on the nurses’ perceptions of exercise, self-efficacy and social support as well as their motivation to participate in exercise. Occupational variables, such as occupational stress and work assignment, should be investigated in future studies, to examine their influence on nurses’ participation in exercise.