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The Relationship between Physical Activity and Self-Efficacy in Schools


Few studies have examined the relationship between physical activities and health outcomes among adolescents. The majority of the adult population knows much about health-risk behaviours of adolescents, and knows less about their health-promoting behaviours. The purpose of the study was to determine the relationship between physical activity levels and self-efficacy among adolescents.


According to Start Active, regular physical activity associates with benefits for physical and mental health (as cited in Roberts et al, 2015). Studies have indicated that health life traits and styles have an impact on lifelong health and life quality. Childhood poor diet and physical inactivity have been risk factors for a multitude of chronic health condition in adulthood (Matthews et al, 2015). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for children, only 42% of children and 8% of adolescents achieve current recommended physical activity.

Most students studying in Hoca Ahment Yesevi University were hound to have health issues emanating from lack of physical exercise and personal fitness programs (Ozkan, 2015). Up to 70 per cent of university students are reported as not participating in regular free-time physical activity or exercise (Haase et al, 2004, as cited in Roberts et al, 2014). Simon et al (2015) mentioned that majority of the adult population fails to achieve recommended daily exercise, 30-minutes moderate intensity exercise. When physical activity is conducted regularly as the researchers found out, it is likely to improve the physical fitness of the students and generally of people and therefore contributing heavily to better healthy life styles. Achieving daily exercise was shown to promote better sleep quality and higher psychological functioning in adolescents (Kalak et al, 2012, as cited in Rew et al, 2015).

Styles and activities that promote the health of humans increase their chances of wellbeing and therefore promote healthy living. In achieving well-being in health, there must be a mentioned engagement in activities which are likely to enhance the same such as proper exercises and fitness methods. Health promotion takes quite a multidimensional structure, that is, intellectual, mental, physical and social and therefore a number of behaviours which are meant at promoting behaviours are identified by health professionals and other researchers. These behaviours include life appreciation, stress management, health responsibility, social support, exercise and better nutrition. Therefore a general conclusion is arrived at that physical activity and exercise have an impact on the quality of human life and can actually aid its improvement.

Other studies that were greatly explored in coming up with tangible evidence on this relationship exhibited that physical activity behaviour amongst students decreased from their high school education as they progressed to university education. According to Lindgren et al (2011), few studies have reported a significant correlation between level of physical activity and levels of self-efficacy. There exists a lack of adequate information on the healthy life traits of students and therefore this research was prompted by the need to fill this gap. This study was purposed to determine whether there exists a relationship between levels of physical activity and corresponding self-efficacy levels among adolescents.

Literature Review


The purpose of this review is to investigate effects of physical activities on US adolescents’ self-efficacy. I began with reading at articles related to current situations of adolescents’ health. I then discuss the articles stated about physical activities and psychological functioning. I concluded in-depth studies of the self-efficacy levels correspond to physical activities.

Grasp the Present Situation of U.S. Adolescents’ Physical Health

The US is facing a national childhood obesity crisis, and that is greatly attributed to the fact that they do little no physical activity. According to a survey conducted in 2007-2008, 30% of children and adolescents in the United States were found to be overweight. These results were an indication that their body mass was greater than the 85 percentile (Azóia & Dobreiro, 2010). There are many young Americans who suffer from chronic diseases associated with obesity even before they reach adulthood. Even though obesity is brought about by a variety of factors, an individual can be able to realize weight loss by making major adjustments in his or her diet and behavioral activities. Health behavior modifications are paramount for one to sustain weight loss (Manley, 2008).

Technocrats in the health sector have had varied arguments on the role played by physical education on students. More recent reviews point out to an overwhelming role played by physical exercise on guaranteeing physical and mental wellbeing of the youths. Apart from the specialists’ reports, many other institutions and government agencies alike have linked proper physical exercise to an incredible mental and general healthy growth among school-going age bracket youth.

There has been a tremendous change in the general lifestyle of most youths in America and the world over. This is evident in the fashion sense, the living status as well as other day to day interactions including leisure management (Harrell et al, 2003). According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES), the number of cases health complications arising from poor lifestyle, devoid of physical activities, is a major scare to a healthy living among the youth.

Risk of Disease and Prevention

Poor nutrition is one of the major factors that heavily and most dominantly associated with the heath complication that affect the young people. According to Matthews et al (2015), an incredible majority of the youth who barely engage in any physical activity and who have poor diet are at the risk of mental and multitude of chronic diseases that are manifested in adulthood. According to the government statistics on healthcare and child development, it is increasingly alarming that the foods consumed by the young generation today calls for constant exercise as a way of eliminating the toxins that accumulate within the body as a way of excreting the waste products.

Divisions of Nutrition and Physical Activity and Adolescent and School Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Constellate Group, the youth in this era have not adequately utilized their leisure time to get the best shapeup of their health standards by stepping up their involvement in physical activities (Liu et al, 2013). By engaging in physical activities the individuals can easily curb the prevalence of chronicle diseases which are the mostly deadly diseases in the world.

Connection between Physical Activities and Health Behavior

Physical exercise documented as an aid to individuals struggling with chronic diseases. Some of the chronic illnesses include diabetes, cancer, and obesity that can be controlled by physical exercises. According to medics, the lack of regular activities leads to preventable diseases that also contribute to psychological instability. Unfortunately, it is evident that the adolescents have an inactive lifestyle that adds up their stresses and leave them prone to chronic diseases (Delisle et al, 2010). There is a deep connection between physical activities and healthy behavior. However, it is not one set of practice but a sequence of healthy choices for an individual to have a healthy lifestyle. It is apparent that the frequency, duration and intensity of the physical activities demonstrate psychological well-being. Physical activities are essential for the physical and the psychological well-being of an individual. The adolescents need to exercise regularly to avoid stress or preventable chronic diseases.

Improving Psychological Functioning by Physical Activities

Exercises and other physical activities are essential not just for the physical well-being but also for the psychological health of a person. According to research, the adolescents require physical activities for a better functioning. Arguably, it is a therapeutic exercise that leads to better functioning (Kalak et al, 2012). As a result, exercise is often introduced as therapeutic intervention even in the midst of conflicts. Stress is also a leading psychological challenge for the modern community. Consequently, exercise leads to stress level reduction as individuals release their tension through the physical exercises. Evidently, physical exercises are therapeutic and are often introduced in a psychological setting.

Physical activities are one of the ways to improve and enhance cognitive processes. Both the young and the older adults cognitive performance can be easily improved by doing exercises .according to several research and studies , engagement of exercises and physical activities are the greatest and the best thing to do frequently since they have some benefits to an individual especially the emotional well-being (Rew et al, 2015). Some articles and studies show that the physical activities reduce depression symptoms, anxiety and they also improves mood. Statistics shows that most of the individuals who had diagnosed with major issues of depression can significantly improve if they undergo aerobic exercises.

Behavioral patterns that are initiated during childhood can positively or negatively affect the well-being and health of an individual throughout one’s life span (Steinberg, 2014). There are several health’s –promoting physical activities that individuals can engage themselves to such as games, nutritional snacks consumption and also managing trauma effectively. By engaging in this kind of activities the adolescent can be easily be protected from adverse outcome of health (Nanney, Davey & Kubik, 2013). Healthy lifestyle can be easily developed by individuals engaging themselves in health-promoting behaviors. The recent research shows that the age difference and gender differ in health-promoting behaviors. For instance, the studies show that the males are the most likely to healthy intake patterns compared to the females (Rew et al, 2015). According to the youth risk behavior survey(YRBS) shows that the males are the most likely to exhibit several health-promoting behaviors including eating more serving of fruits, vegetables, milk and also engaging themselves in physical activities compared to the females.

In-depth Study of Self-efficacy and Physical Activity

According to Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory, self-efficacy is ones’ own ability to believe that they are in a position to achieve actions that can enable them attains the desired effects. It links to the ability of an individual to achieve as well as maintain changes in their behaviors. This idea, therefore, makes it reasonable for one to anticipate that physical activities may greatly benefit from the social cognitive theory, hence, making it possible for one to evaluate how self-efficacy is affected by behavioral changes.

Self-efficacy has been described as an indication of physical activity rather than an independent outcome. Several studies have supported the fact that self-efficacy served as a potential medium within a variety of physical activity programs for children (Amnesi, 2006). There are also several researchers who have associated self-efficacy with improved health behaviors and modifications. In several studies, a significant correlation between general perceived self-efficacy and the positive effect of life satisfaction was founded (Lindgren et al, 2011). However, only a handful of the studies indicate a direct link between physical activity and self-efficacy.


The purpose of these surveys and interviews is to investigate effects of physical activities on United States adolescents’ and the relationship to academic self-efficacy in private middle schools.

Quantitative Survey

Five boys and five girls from each of five private middles schools will be conducting 16 questions of survey. All participants are selected randomly, and they are 12 to 14 of ages. Most of participants are whites and from upper-middle class families. Questions one through three will be assessing the demographic background. Questions four through six will measure activity level starts from the lowest activity response and progress to the highest activity response. Questions seven through 14 will measure student’s academic self-efficacy level. Question 15 and 16 allow for qualitative responses to further allow subject to explain their thoughts toward physical activities and academic self-efficacy. The survey form can be found in Appendix A.

Data Analysis

The answers will be assessed based on their numerical value. Questions four through 14 will be assessed based on their reported value that is checked off for each item.

Qualitative Interview Procedures

I will collect data by interviewing teenagers between 12 years and 14 years of age. The target population for this interview will be randomly selected: one boy and one girl from each school. The interviews will explore in depth how their physical activities are directly involved with their academic performance. The interviews are an appropriate method because they enable understanding of how physical activities are connected with the prevention of disease, students’ health behaviors and the improvement of their psychological functions in relation to their self-efficacy.

Consent Process

I will seek informed consent from the parents or guardians of the potential study participants for participation in the interviews. The consent discussion will be conducted with the parents/ guardians of the potential participants in their children’s schools and in a language that the participant is most comfortable with, using a translator if necessary. Before providing information answering any queries, each participant’s parent or guardian will be asked if they can give their written consent using the provided consent form.

Conducting the Interviews

The interviews will take place in the gymnasium of the school. Information about the goal of the interview and the overall study will be provided to each participant at the beginning of each session, with each participant being clearly informed that no incentives will be provided other than refreshments. Each participant will be asked to present written consent from their parents or guardian then confidentiality and anonymity will be explained. During each interview session, the question guide will be followed and the investigator will take notes of the verbal responses on the questions posed to the participants. The protocol and interview questions can be found in Appendix B.

Data Analysis

Upon completion of the interview, I will prepare a typed and complete transcript for each participant while properly assigning them numbers for anonymity. The analysis will begin with the identification of the patterns and trends that emerge from field notes, transcripts of the interviews, additional documents that the participants’ parents or guardians may deem fit to provide and my observations.

This inductive analysis protocol will scan the text, identify possible relationships between physical activities and self-efficacy, while attempting to examine the contemporary phenomenon in its real-life context as it is discovered, developed, and provisionally verified through systematic data collection.


Allender, S., Cowburn, G., & Foster, C. (2006). Understanding participation in sport and

physical activity among children and adults: a review of qualitative studies.

Health education research, 21(6), 826-835. Retrieved from:

Amnesi, J. J. (2006). Relations of physical self-concept and self-efficacy with frequency of voluntary physical activity in preadolescents: implications for after-school care programming. Journal of Psychosomatic Research61(4), 515-520.

Azóia, N., & Dobreiro, P. (2010). Treadmill exercise and its effects on cardiovascular

fitness,depression and muscle aerobic function. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Delisle, T. T., Werch, E. C., Wong, H. A., Bian, H., & Weiler, R. (2010). Relationship between frequency and intensity of physical activity and health behaviors of adolescents. Journal of School Health80(3), 134-140.

Harrell, J. S., Pearce, P. F., Markland, E.,T., Wilson, K., Bradley, B. C., & McMurray, G. R. (2003). Assessing physical activity in adolescents: Common activities of children in 6th-8th grades. Journal of American Academy of Nurse Practitioners15, 170-178.

Lindgren, E., Baigi, A., Apitzsch, E., & Bergh, H. (2011). Impact of a six-month empowerment-based exercise intervention programme in non-physically active adolescent Swedish girls. Health Educational Journal, 2011, 70(I), 9-20. doi:10.1177/0017896910379366

Liu, J., Sun, H., Beets, W. M., & Probst, C. J. (2013). Assessing natural groupings of

common leisure-time physical activities and its correlates among US adolescents. Journal of Physical Activity and Health10, 470-479.

Kalak, N., Gerber, M., Kirov, R., Mikoteit, M. D., Yordanova, J., Puhse, U., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & et al. (2012). Daily morning running for 3 weeks improved sleep and psychological functioning in healthy adolescents compared with controls.

Journal of Adolescent Health51(6), 615-622.

Manley, D., Cowan, P., Graff, C., Perlow, M., Rice, P., Richey, P., & Sanchez, Z. (2014). Self-efficacy, physical activity, and aerobic fitness in middle school children: Examination of a pedometer intervention program.

Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 29(3), 228-237

Matthews, T. D., O’Neill, E., Kostelis, K. T., Jaffe, D., Vitti, S., Quinlan, M., & Boland, M. (2015). Physical activity and self-efficacy in physical activity and healthy eating in an urban elementary setting. American Journal of Health Education, 46(3), 132-137. doi:10.1080/19325037.2015.1023476

Nanney,M. S., Davey, C. S., & Kubik, M. Y. (2013). Rural disparities in the distribution

of policies that support healthy eating in US secondary schools.

Journal of Academic Nutrition and Diet113, 1062–1068.

Ozkan, A. (2015). The relationship between physical activity level and healthy life-style behaviors of distance education students. Academic Journals, 2015, 10(4), 416-422.

doi:10. 5897/ERR2015.2082

Rew, L., Arheart, K. L., Horner, S.D., Thompson, S., & Johnson, K. E. (2015). Gender and

ethnic differences in health-promoting behaviors of rural adolescents.

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exercise motives among UK-based university students.

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Appendix A

Physical Activity Level and Academic Self-Efficacy Survey

1. Gender

( Male ( Female

2. Grade

( 7thth ( 8thth

3. What is your race? (Mark one or more boxes)

( White ( Black, African American ( Asian, Asian American

( Hispanic ( American Indian ( some other race __________

We are trying to find out about your level of physical activity from the last 7 days. This includes sports or dances that make you sweat or make your legs feel tired, or games that make you breathe hard, like playing soccer, running, playing basketball and others.

Please answer all the questions as honestly and accurately as you can.

4. In the last 7 days, during your physical education (PE) classes, how often were you very active?

I do not participate at all during PE class.

( I Hardly ever participate during PE class.

( Sometimes participate during PE class.

( I Quite often participate during PE class.

( Always actively participate during PE class.

5. In the last 7 days, what did you normally do at lunch? (check one only)

( I was sitting down talking, reading, and doing homework.

( I Stood around the cafeteria or walked around the school at lunch.

( I Ran and played with classmates a little bit

( I Ran around and played more than 3 days.

( I Ran and played hard most of the time

6. Think about what activities outside of school over the last 7 days, how many times did you participate in sports, dance, or some other activity that required you to be active?

( None ( 1 time in last week ( 2 or 3 times in last week

( 4 or 5 times in last week ( Everyday

Questions 7~14

Now we are trying to find out about your level of academic self-efficacy.

Self  efficacy means one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task.

One’s sense of  self  efficacy  can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges

Please answer all the questions as honestly and accurately as you can.

Questions Not at all


2 3 4 Very well


7. How well can you get teachers to help you when you get stuck on school work?
8. How well can you study when there are other interesting things to do?
9. How well can you study a chapter for a test?
10. How well do you succeed in finishing all your homework every day?
11. How well can you pay attention during every class?
12. How well do you succeed in understanding all subjects in school?
13. How well do you succeed in satisfying your parents with your school work?
14. How well do you succeed in passing a test?

For the next two questions, please do not hesitate to include your thoughts.

Your answers will not be shared.

15. What would you say to your friend to let him/her know the importance of regular physical activity?


16. What factors help you feel like you will do well in school? (such as, parents compliment, friends, & health)


Thank you for taking time to complete this survey. This survey is confidential.

Appendix B

A Qualitative Study on Adolescents Who Participate in Physical Activities in

Private Middle Schools in the United States

Thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview session. The study is focused on adolescents who participate in physical activities in private middle schools in the United States, and is specifically aimed at finding the relationship between physical activities of adolescents, their health behaviors and their academic self-efficacy levels. Your answers here will be confidential, unless you provide written permission to the research team to quote you by name. We anticipate that this interview will take about 20-30 minutes. Do you have any questions for me before we begin?

Interview Questions

1. Do you know about importance of physical activity at your age? Why do you think it is important? How do you think it helps you?

2. What activities do you do with your friends? What do you usually do/tell a friend to let them know regular physical activity is important to them?

3. Can you concentrate well in class after physical education class? What do you usually do before you start of after you finish studying or doing homework?

4. How attentive are you in class? What do you do if something interesting happens when in an ongoing class?

5. Are your parents satisfied with how you do your homework or how you do on tests? If not, what actions have you taken to ensure you satisfy them?


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