Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 57, Issue 11, pp 837-849

First online:

Midlife Women’s Physical Activity Goals: Sociocultural Influences and Effects on Behavioral Regulation

  • Michelle L. SegarAffiliated withInstitute for Research on Women and Gender, The University of Michigan Email author 
  • , Jacquelynne S. EcclesAffiliated withInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • , Stephen C. PeckAffiliated withInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • , Caroline R. RichardsonAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Michigan

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A better understanding of midlife women’s exercise goals could offer insight into the psychosocial facilitators and barriers to their participation. A random sample of US working women (40–60 years) was taken, and resulted in 262 participants. Cluster analysis identified participants’ most important physical activity goal. A five goal cluster solution was identified: (1) sense of well-being; (2) weight loss; (3) health benefits; (4) stress reduction; and (5) weight maintenance/toning. The goal cluster solution was validated and suggested relevant sociocultural influences and potential effects on behavioral regulation (p < .05). Data showed that weight- and health-related goals have sociocultural influences and are associated with more extrinsic and less intrinsic behavioral regulation compared to stress reduction and sense of well-being goals.


Physical activity Exercise Women Goals Behavioral regulation