Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, 42:188

The Relationship of Physical Activity and the Built Environment within the Context of Self-Determination Theory

  • Jennifer L. Gay
  • Ruth P. Saunders
  • Marsha Dowda
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12160-011-9292-y

Cite this article as:
Gay, J.L., Saunders, R.P. & Dowda, M. ann. behav. med. (2011) 42: 188. doi:10.1007/s12160-011-9292-y



Evidence is emerging of the combined effects of psychosocial and environmental determinants on exercise.


This study aims to examine the moderating effects of convenience, facilities at places of worship, access, crime/safety, and neighborhood characteristics on the relationship between exercise and psychosocial needs satisfaction (autonomy, competence, and relatedness).


Adults from four cities enrolling in a weight loss program (N = 477; 72.1% White, BMI = 32.21 ± 7.67) completed questionnaires on current exercise levels, perceptions of the environment for exercise, and autonomy, competence, and relatedness.


There were significant interaction effects for neighborhood characteristics with all three psychological needs satisfaction, and for convenience with competence and relatedness, such that the relationship between psychosocial needs satisfaction and exercise is stronger for participants with better perceptions of convenience and neighborhood characteristics.


Results indicate that the relationship between exercise and autonomy, competence, and relatedness is different for low and high perceptions of convenience to places for exercise and neighborhood characteristics.


Physical activity Adults Access Convenience Need satisfaction 

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer L. Gay
    • 1
  • Ruth P. Saunders
    • 2
  • Marsha Dowda
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Health Promotion & Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Texas School of Public HealthBrownsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Promotion, Education, and BehaviorUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Exercise ScienceUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.Assistant Professor – Health Promotion and Behavior College of Public HealthUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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