SocioEconomic Status, Control Beliefs and Exercise Intentions and Behavior
Murray, Terra C.
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Purpose: Perceived control and socioeconomic status (SES) are thought to play important roles in health behavior. In exercise research, proximal control beliefs are most often studied, but some socio-ecological models suggest that distal factors are related to behavior. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of SES, generalized and behavioral specific control beliefs on exercise intentions and behavior. Methods: People living in a Canadian city were mailed an anonymous survey. Participants reported income, education, occupation, subjective social status, perceptions of control over life (perceived mastery; PM, and personal constraints; PC), perceived behavioral control (PBC), and exercise intentions and behavior. Complete data was collected from 323 participants (N = 212 women, M age=48.1). Results: Separate hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine the influence of SES and control variables on exercise intentions and behavior. For intentions (R2 = .38), income (β = .13), social status (β = .25), PM (β = .26) and PBC (β = .49) were important predictors. SES variables were no longer significant after the addition of PBC. For behavior (R2 = .18), significant predictors were income (β = .13), PM (β = .15), PC (β = -.24) and PBC (β = .25). Income and PM were no longer significant once PBC was included in the model. Conclusions: People with higher income and PBC had stronger intentions and engaged in more exercise. Individuals who believed they had control over their life had higher intentions to exercise, only those who perceived fewer constraints were more likely to engage in exercise.