Self-efficacy versus perceived enjoyment as predictors of physical activity behaviour

Beth A Lewis, David M. Williams, Amanda Frayeh, Bess H. Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Objective: Self-efficacy and physical activity (PA) enjoyment are related to PA behaviour, but it is unclear which is more important and how they interrelate. The purpose of this study was to examine how these two constructs interrelate to influence PA behaviour. Design: Participants were low-active adults (n = 448) participating in a RCT examining the effect of a PA promotion intervention. Participants completed physical activity, enjoyment and self-efficacy measures at baseline, six and 12 months. Results: Self-efficacy and enjoyment at both baseline and six months predicted PA at 12 months. However, enjoyment was a stronger predictor than self-efficacy, in that self-efficacy no longer predicted PA behaviour when included alongside enjoyment. In follow-up mediation analyses, enjoyment at six months did not mediate the effect of baseline self-efficacy on 12-month PA; however, six-month self-efficacy mediated the effect of baseline enjoyment on 12-month PA. Conclusion: Our results indicate that interventions should perhaps initially focus on increasing enjoyment of physical activity. Greater PA enjoyment appears to influence individuals’ self-reported ability to engage in regular PA (i.e. higher self-efficacy ratings). Additional research is needed to better understand the interrelationships between self-efficacy and enjoyment and how these constructs affect PA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-469
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute under [grant number R01 HL72947].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • enjoyment
  • mediation
  • physical activity
  • self-efficacy


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