Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Craig Hall


The general purpose of this dissertation was to explore the relationship among and within cognitive variables associated with exercise initiation and maintenance in a sample of female exercise initiates.

Manuscript 1 was structured to explore the changes to exercise identity among a population of female exercise initiates (N = 78) grouped into an imagery or control condition. Previous research has found that a strong exercise identity is associated with more frequent exercise (Strachan et al., 2009) and increases over time as a person continues to exercise (Cardinal & Cardinal, 1997). Participants were assessed multiple times (weeks 0, 5, 9, 18, 36) during their enrollment in an eight week cardiovascular exercise program. Findings revealed significant time effects for identity, exercise behaviour, and fitness. In addition, a significant group x time interaction effect was observed at week 9 for role identity in favour of the exercise imagery condition. Given exercise identity appears to serve as an important construct in the promotion of exercise adherence (Strachan et al., 2013) results of the imagery intervention in the current study are very promising.

Manuscript 2 aimed to explore the changes in an exercisers’ self-efficacy (task, scheduling, and coping) and outcome expectations (appearance/health likelihood and value) over time, as well as to determine each variable’s influence on future intentions to be active.Of particular interest in the present study was the previous suggestion that outcome expectations and self-efficacy may influence exercise behaviour at different time points within an exercise program (Rodgers & Brawley, 1996). Female participants (N = 78) completed various measures (i.e., outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and intentions at week 0, 9, 36). Employing regression analyses, significant results were observed at week 9, with task self-efficacy predicting intention to maintain behaviour. Scheduling self-efficacy was the strongest predictor of intentions to maintain behaviour at week 36, with additional contributions from appearance likelihood and task self-efficacy. Lastly, health value was a significant predictor of one’s intention to increase activity level at week 36. It appears that outcome expectations and self-efficacy have an impact on intentions to engage in exercise behaviour, and this contribution changes over time.

Keywords: imagery, exercise, identity, self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, women