TitleFactors associated with transitional shifts in college students' physical activity behavior.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsLevy, SS, Cardinal, BJ
JournalResearch quarterly for exercise and sport
Date Published2006 Dec

The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & Marcus, 1994) has been widely used as a framework for understanding exercise behavior change. The purpose of this study was to clarify equivocal research findings reported for model predictions when examining stage movement over time rather than static stages and to provide some evidence of the construct validity of transitional stages. Participants were female (n = 285) and male (n = 243) undergraduates (M age = 19.9 years, SD = 2.7) who completed previously validated questionnaires twice, separated by 9 weeks, that assessed stage of change, exercise behavior, processes of change, pros and cons of exercise, and exercise self-efficacy. Participants were classified into one of five transitional shift groups based on their responses at baseline and follow up: (a) stable sedentary, (b) stable active, (c) activity adopters, (d) activity relapsers, and (e) perpetual preparers. Results of a 5 (group) x 2 (time) repeated measures (RM) analysis of variance (ANOVA) examining exercise behavior revealed a significant interaction (p < .001) and supported transitional stage classification, with activity adopters and stable actives increasing exercise over time and relapsers decreasing activity. Separate 5 (group) x 2 (time) RM ANOVAs examining model constructs revealed no significant interaction for cognitive processes of change; however, activity adopters and stable actives reported significant (p < .01) increases in the use of behavioral processes over time, while only the activity relapsers and perpetual preparers reported decreases. Activity relapsers also reported significant (p < .05) decreases in the pros of exercise. No significant interactions were found for the cons of exercise behavior. Unlike findings reported in cross-sectional studies, increases in self-efficacy did not accompany increases in exercise stage. The findings strongly support examination of stage movement classifications rather than static stages, as these transitions provide greater insight into the mechanisms of exercise behavior change.