Autonomous motivation for exercise does not moderate the self-compassion and physical activity relationship


Researchers have found that self-compassion is associated with physical activity, though not much is known about this relationship. Based on self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2017) it is possible that having an autonomous motivation for exercise enhances the relationship between self-compassion and physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine if autonomous motivation moderated the link between self-compassion and physical activity behaviour. Carleton University undergraduate students (N = 387, Mage = 19.69, SD = 2.69) completed a one-time online survey composed of a demographic questionnaire, the Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003), the Behaviour Regulation for Exercise Questionnaire-3 (Markland & Tobin, 2004; Wilson et al., 2006), and the Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire (Godin & Shepard, 1985). Higher autonomous motivation was associated with higher physical activity (r = .50, p <.001) and self-compassion (r =.28, p < .001). Self-compassion was not associated with physical activity (r = .08, p =.112). Autonomous motivation for exercise did not moderate the relationship between self-compassion and physical activity behaviour (B = -.93, p = .62). Therefore, being self-compassionate and having autonomous motivation for exercise did not influence physical activity behaviour. Researchers should investigate self-compassion for exercise contexts (versus in general) and examine people who are having physical activity setbacks (versus any student in general). Additionally, further investigation is necessary to examine the potential moderators or meditators of self-compassion and physical activity, as this research is still in its infancy.