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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reasons for running : an investigation of intentional change in exercise behaviour Lendvoy, Harry


Running has become the sport of the 1980s. Men and women of all ages are regularly seen running throughout the community. The recent Canada Fitness Survey (1983) indicated that jogging is the first choice of activities which people wish to begin. Most adults who begin running programs take responsibility for the selection, planning, and implementing of personalized exercise programs which represent an important change in their lives. Instead of participating in formal running programs under the supervision of a running or fitness instructor, these individuals engage in self-directed learning experiences to attain knowledge and skills relevant to running. The purpose of the study was to investigate the reasons why adults, at a particular time in their lives, decided to begin to run. Tough's (1982) concept of intentional change and a lifespan developmental perspective provided a theoretical framework. Rather than regarding adulthood as a period of stability or decline, this perspective emphasizes the potential for growth and self-improvement. Inherent in this approach, is the view that adult lives are characterized by transitions defined by life events. In addition to a consideration of life events and environmental influences, relationships between sex and age and reasons for beginning to run were also investigated. Three instruments were developed. The Initial Reasons For Running Scale identified a wide range of reasons for beginning to run and the relative importance of each to the individual. The Life Event Scale identified events experienced by adults and the relative effect of each. The External Influence Scale identified seventeen environmental factors which may have influenced a man or woman to begin running. The 205 subjects were selected while running in various locations throughout the Greater Vancouver area. All data was collected on a self-administered questionnaire. Data from the IRFRS was factor analyzed. Orthogonal rotation yielded six factors--SOLITUDE, PERSONAL CHALLENGE, SOCIALIZATION, PREVENTION, REMEDIAL, and HEALTH. Orthogonal rotation of data from the EIS yielded four factors--MODEL, MEDIA, MOVIE, and PARTICIPACTION. An analysis of variance was performed to help explain the variance between the interaction of sex and age with IRFRS scores. This two-way analysis indicated interesting differences in IRFRS factor scores among men and women of different age groups. In several instances, important distinctions appeared between total populations of males and females and specific sex-cohort groups. Results of bivariate and multivariate analyses indicated that sex and age were not as useful in predicting motives for beginning to run as were variables concerned with life events and external influences. However, men were more likely than women to be motivated by PERSONAL CHALLENGE, PREVENTION, and REMEDIAL. In terms of age, younger adults were more likely than older adults to begin running for PERSONAL CHALLENGE and less likely to begin running for PREVENTION. A series of regression equations were performed to help explain variance in IRFRS factor scores. The most significant variables, the only ones which met the criterion for entry in all regression equations, were those concerned with specific life events. The experience of Health events was especially important. Although statistical significance was found between certain variables and IRFRS factors, most variance in motives for running was unexplained. But of the variance that was explained it was clear that life events were more influential predictors of reasons for beginning running than age or sex, considered separately or together. This study represents a beginning step in the explanation and prediction of reasons why adults begin exercise programs.

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