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Personal Fulfillment Motivates Adolescents to Get Fit

Study identifies weight concerns, peer and parent influences as less important motivators

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Personal fulfillment, including such factors as enjoyment of physical activity and a desire to become fit, is what motivates most adolescents to become physically active, according to a study published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Kirsten Krahnstoever Davison, Ph.D., of the State University of New York at Albany, and a colleague conducted a cross-sectional study of 202 students (92 girls, mean age 12.5 years; and 110 boys, mean age 12.7 years) and assessed them using the Activity Motivation Scale.

The researchers identified personal fulfillment as the most important overall source of motivation, followed by weight-based (wanting to lose weight), peer-influenced (social activity with friends, to emulate popular peers at school) and parent-influenced (parents want them to). They also found that overweight adolescents were significantly more likely to report weight-based motivation than normal-weight adolescents.

"Low levels of physical activity among youth are of public health concern, given the health risks associated with physical inactivity," the authors conclude. "Results from this study suggest that personal fulfillment motivation could be used as a basis for physical activity promotion programs for youth and that this strategy may be effective for all youth regardless of their risk status."

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