Associations between self-determined motivation, accelerometer-determined physical activity, and quality of life in chinese college students

Kun Tao, Wenxi Liu, Shanying Xiong, Lodewyk Ken, Nan Zeng, Qingwen Peng, Xiaoni Yan, Junli Wang, Yizhong Wu, Mingzhi Lei, Xianxiong Li, Zan Gao

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27 Scopus citations


Purpose: To better promote college students’ physical activity (PA) and quality of life (QoL), it is imperative to understand this population’s PA correlates, such as self-determined motivation and perceived competence. However, few studies existed in this area of inquiry among Chinese college students. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among Chinese college students’ self-determined motivation, PA, and QoL. Method: A total of 220 college students (115 females; Mage = 20.29 years, SD = 2.37; MBMI = 20.67) were recruited from one university in south-central China. Participants were instructed to wear the ActiGraph GT9X Link (ActiGraph, Pensacola, FL, USA) accelerometers for 7 days. A minute-by-minute stepping rate methodology was used to determine participants sedentary behaviors, light physical activity (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Participants’ self-determined motivation (autonomous, controlled, and amotivation), perceived competence, and QoL (physical function, stress, depression, fatigue, sleep, and social issues) were assessed by a battery of validated surveys in June 2017. Results: Participants reported moderate–high levels of PA correlates and QoL as the means ranged from 5.5 to 6 (out of 7) for PA correlates and 2.75 to 4 (out of 4) for QoL. The minute-by-minute stepping rate revealed participants had average 580.51 min/day in sedentary, 134.77 min/day in LPA, and 1.57 min/day in MVPA. Regression analyses for physical function, stress, depression, and social issues suggested that the models explained 4%–8% of the variances. Specifically, perceived competence was the negative predictor of the problems with physical function (β = −0.17, p < 0.05) and depression (β = −0.18, p < 0.01), amotivation was positively associated with depression and stress (p < 0.05). Additionally, controlled motivation predicted the ability to participate in social roles and activities (β = 0.22, p < 0.05). No significant predictors emerged for fatigue or for sleep. Conclusions: Findings suggest Chinese college students’ perceived competence and social support are critical for improving PA and QoL. In addition, strategies are needed to motivate Chinese college students to engage in PA participation and improve overall well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2941
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Depression
  • Light physical activity
  • Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
  • Physical function
  • Stress


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