In recent years, there has been a decline in physical activity among adults. Motivation has been shown to be a crucial factor in maintaining physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine whether motives for participation could accurately discriminate gender, age, and type of physical activity.
A quantitative, cross-sectional descriptive research design was employed. The Physical Activity and Leisure Motivation Scale (PALMS) was used to assess motives for physical activity in 1,360 adults (703 males, 657 females) who had been exercising regularly for at least six months. The PALMS consists of 40 items that constitute eight sub-scales (mastery, enjoyment, psychological condition, physical condition, appearance, others’ expectations, affiliation, competition/ego). Respondents were divided into two age groups (young adults aged 20 to 40 years and middle-aged adults 41 to 64 years) and five types of activity (individual racing sports plus bowls, team sports, racquet sports, martial arts, and exercise).
The group discriminant function analyses revealed significant canonical functions correctly classifying the cases into gender (82%), age group (83%), team sport players 76%, individual racing sport plus bowls players 91%, racquet sport players 90%, exercisers 84%, and martial art players 91%. The competition/ego, appearance, physical condition, and mastery sub-scales contributed most to gender differences. Five sub-scales (mastery, psychological condition, others’ expectations, affiliation, and enjoyment) contributed most to the discriminant function for age. For type of activity, different sub-scales were the strongest contributors to the discriminant function for each type of PA.
The findings in this study suggest that strong and important motives for participation in physical activity are different across type of activity, age, and gender in adults. Understanding the motives that influence physical activity participation is critical for developing interventions to promote higher levels of involvement.