Differences in Exercise Motives between Boys and Girls of Preschool Age

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Jelena Alić

Abstract

Motivation (lat. “Movere” = to move) can be defined as everything that moves us towards a goal, everything that conditions a directed action, and as a psychological process of satisfying needs (Sindik, 2009). Within kinesiological activities, there are two types of exercise motivation: internal and external motivation. Internal motivation refers to behaviour that is triggered by certain internal urges and rewards and arises from an individual’s need because it makes him satisfied as opposed to external motivation which involves behaviour aimed at achieving a certain reward or avoiding punishment (Coon, 2010). The main aim of the research was to determine the exercise motivational structure of preschool children and also to determine if gender differences exist among preschool children in exercise motivation. The sample included 74 preschool children, males and females, between 5 and 7 years of age (N=74, Nf =38, Nm=36). Individual differences in exercise motivation of preschool children have been assessed by the adapted version of Exercise motivation inventory – EMI 2 (Vlašić et al., 2002). The basic descriptive indicators were calculated, and the Mann- Whitney U test was applied to test gender differences in exercise motivation. The obtained results of the research indicate that the dominant motive that encourages children to exercise is their health (AS = 4.47), followed by enjoyment (AS = 4.28) and socializing with friends (AS = 4.27). This indicates that children are more motivated by internal urges than external ones, which is also a desirable motivational pattern. In addition, statistically significant differences in the exercise motives were found with regard to the gender of the respondents. Boys are, to a greater extent than girls, motivated for physical activity due to the improvement of physical appearance (p = 0.004) and due to the results/victories (p = 0.017) achieved in the context of the implementation of kinesiological activities. This knowledge can be used in the organization ofphysical activities in order to increase children’s motivation and keep the child in a particular sport or physical activity.

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Section
Original scientific paper