Motivational Profile as a Predictor for Physical Activity Among U.S. Adults During the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Daily Diary Study
Objective: This study used a daily diary approach to examine associations between day-level physical activity (PA) behavior, PA-specific motivational profile, and days since the COVID-19 national emergency declaration during the early months (April-June 2020) of the pandemic. Method: A total of 475 U.S. adults (Mage=34.9 years, 78% female) participated in a 28-day smartphone-based daily diary study assessing PA. A baseline survey assessed PA and motivation for PA using the Behavioral Regulation
... for Exercise Questionnaire. Multi-level linear regression models examined the main effects and interactions of motivational profile and time (days since the March 13, 2020 COVID-19 national emergency declaration) on daily PA minutes. Results: Latent Profile Analysis identified four distinct motivational profile classes for PA among this sample: Class 1) high amotivation (n=102, 21%); Class 2) low controlled motivation (n=55, 12%); Class 3) high external regulation (n=47, 10%); and Class 4) moderate autonomous motivation (n=271, 57%). After controlling for baseline PA, there were significant interactions between class and time on daily PA (-0.16, p<.01). Class 2 showed greater decreases in daily PA minutes over time than Classes 1 and 3 (b=-0.28, p<.01 and b=-0.17, p=.02, respectively). Conclusions: Contrary to previous research, individuals with lower controlled or moderate autonomous motivation demonstrated the largest decreases in PA over time, whereas individuals with higher amotivation or external regulation demonstrated smaller decreases over time. These findings suggest that external motivation may have provided short-term protection against declines in PA observed during early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.