Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Emma Tobin 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Emma Tobin. I have just completed a four year BSc in Applied Psychology. I have an interest in Health Psychology and Educational Psychology. My postgraduate goals include gaining as much experience before I make a final decision on a Masters Programme that will supplement and enhance my career aspirations.

An Exploration of Exercise Motivation, Based on Self-Esteem and Exercise Self-Efficacy

Exercise motivation refers to the drive with which an individual approaches or avoids a behaviour, such as exercise. The physiological and psychological benefits of regular exercise have been well documented. Despite these well-established benefits, only 33% of Irish adults meet the recommenced levels of exercise (WHO, 2018). Extensive research has been carried out to highlight the importance of exercise motivation, self-esteem and exercise self-efficacy as separate, key components for exercise adherence. However, the literature has failed to directly examine the relationship between these cognitive factors and exercise motivation.

Project Objectives

The aim of this project was to explore the research question; does exercise motivation differ based on self-esteem and exercise self-efficacy? The current study included 161 Irish undergraduate students aged between 18 and 25 years. A short demographic questionnaire was used to determine age, gender, year of study, whether or not they engaged in exercise and what type of exercise they engaged in. Participants self-esteem and exercise self-efficacy was also measured using two questionnaires.

Project Outcomes

Results of the present study suggest that those low in self-esteem were motivated by external factors, such as affiliation and competition, but not by other motivators. Results also suggest that those high in exercise self-efficacy were motivated by internal rewards, such as stress management, revitalisation, and enjoyment, but not by other motivators. No significant interaction between self-esteem and exercise self-efficacy based on exercise motivation was found. The current study contributes to the research body on exercise motivation as it investigates a combination of variables that has not been explored before. With the rise in popularity of exercise as a coping mechanism for the current circumstances of COVID-19, the findings of the present study may appeal greatly to those utilizing online training methods to coach clients, to gain knowledge on some cognitive factors that affect exercise motivation.