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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Predictors and consequences of involvement in physical activity : a causal model of the 1981 Canada Fitness Survey Haag, Gerald Gunnar


Involvement in physical activity (IPA) represents a complex lifestyle behavior. In order to gain a better understanding of the concept of IPA and the relationships with other factors, two comprehensive theoretical models of predictors and consequences of IPA were tested. The 1981 Canada Fitness Survey (CFS) provided an extensive database including physical activity measures. A subsample of 3055 20- to 40-year old Canadian males was chosen for all analyses. Forty-six observed variables were initially selected from the CFS to measure the abstract concepts of past experience, attitude, motivation, social status, barriers, modifiers, IPA, physical fitness, and psychological fitness. Causal modeling techniques were applied to test the conceptual model of fitness, presented in the CFS manual (model I), and a model of IPA developed by the author from a review of the literature (model II). The measurement model and structural equation model were tested for each model with the LISREL computer program. Both models revealed a good fit to the data (GFI=.95 and GFI=.93, respectively). Model I was not based on strong theory and required a large number of modifications. The test of model II was much less difficult and produced larger structural path coefficients. Results from model II indicate that motivation is the strongest predictor of IPA, followed by barriers and social status. Past experience and IPA improve physical fitness. Attitudes and past experience could not predict IPA and neither IPA nor physical fitness affected psychological well-being. Causal modeling appears to be a very powerful and promising statistical method for testing hypothetical models with observational data. However, its mathematical complexity and novelty create various problems with applications. A flowchart of suggested procedures is given.

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