Health officials advocate for increased physical activity to address negative health consequences. While previous studies have investigated what motivates different individuals to exercise, the motives were not verified using unbiased measurements. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), including wearables, are essential for collecting and sharing data necessary for improving health initiatives. The purpose of this study was to use objective measures collected by wearable devices (Fitbit) to track activity and explore whether specific exercise motives impact participants’ physical activities. Ninety-six college freshmen enrolled in the 90-day study. During orientation, participants completed an Exercise Motives Inventory-2 (EMI-2), and their current physical state was baselined. Partial Least Squares (PLS)—Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to model the relationship between variables. The results revealed a relationship between Interpersonal Motives, Health Motives, and Fitness Motives, and participants’ physical activities. Those striving to facilitate a change in exercise behavior in young adults should leverage activities that align with their motives of interest and consider the use of wearable devices to track physical activity.

While many think that individuals can use exercise alone to lose weight, exercise only accounts for roughly 25% of weight loss. However, physical activity has many other benefits including to combatting health conditions and improving sleep, mood, and energy levels. With all of the health benefits, we feel one must understand which motives interest individuals to exercise. The purpose of this study is to determine which exercise motives influence participant’s physical activities using objective measures as collected by a wearable device. To do so, we recruited 96 college Freshmen to participate in this 90-day study. Participants completed the Exercise Motives Inventory-2 (EMI-2) and received a Fitbit during a pre-study orientation where we also collected their weight, height, and blood pressure. A Fitbit was issued so that we could track their activity using an unbiased measurement. Motivators for this age group included Interpersonal Motives, Health Motives, and Fitness Motives, and participants’ physical activities. These individuals were not influenced by Body-Related or Psychological Motives.

This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.