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Cognitive and Motivational Factors Associated with Sedentary Behavior: A Systematic Review

  • Received: 31 May 2016 Accepted: 25 November 2016 Published: 28 November 2016
  • Excessive time spent in sedentary behavior (SB) is associated with numerous health risks. These associations remain even after controlling for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (PA) and body mass index, indicating that efforts to promote leisure time physical activity alone are insufficient. Cognitive and motivation variables represent potentially modifiable factors and have the potential of furthering our understanding of sedentary behavior. Hence, a systematic review was conducted to synthesize and critique the literature on the relationship between cognitive and motivational factors and sedentary behaviors. In April 2016, four electronic databases (Psych info, Pub Med, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science) were searched and a total of 4866 titles and abstracts were reviewed. After meeting inclusion criteria, study characteristics were extracted and the methodological quality of each study was assessed according to the Downs and Black Checklist. PRISMA guidelines for reporting of systematic reviews were followed. Twenty-five studies (16 cross-sectional, 8 longitudinal and one examining two populations and employing both a cross-sectional and prospective design) assessed 23 different cognitive and motivational factors. Seventeen studies were theory-based and 8 did not employ a theoretical model. Results showed that among SB-related cognitions, risk factors for greater sedentary time included having a more positive attitude towards SB, perceiving greater social support/norms for SB, reporting greater SB habits, having greater intentions to be sedentary, and having higher intrinsic, introjected, and external motivation towards SB. Protective factors associated with lower sedentary time included having greater feelings of self-efficacy/control over SB and greater intentions to reduce SB. Among PA-related cognitions, protective factors for lower SB included a more positive attitude towards PA, having greater social support/norms for PA, greater self-efficacy/control for PA, higher PA intentions, and higher intrinsic and identified motivation towards PA. In addition, feeling more supported and empowered in general was related with lower levels of SB. The average methodological quality score for included studies was 69% (SD = 9.15%; range 35–80%). In conclusion, a number of cognitive and motivational factors were identified that were associated with sedentarism. These findings have come from reasonably high quality studies. To further extend our understanding of the relation between cognitive and motivational factors and SB, more longitudinal, theory-driven studies examining cognitions and motivation from a sedentary perspective are required.

    Citation: Scott Rollo, Anca Gaston, Harry Prapavessis. Cognitive and Motivational Factors Associated with Sedentary Behavior: A Systematic Review[J]. AIMS Public Health, 2016, 3(4): 956-984. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2016.4.956

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  • Excessive time spent in sedentary behavior (SB) is associated with numerous health risks. These associations remain even after controlling for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (PA) and body mass index, indicating that efforts to promote leisure time physical activity alone are insufficient. Cognitive and motivation variables represent potentially modifiable factors and have the potential of furthering our understanding of sedentary behavior. Hence, a systematic review was conducted to synthesize and critique the literature on the relationship between cognitive and motivational factors and sedentary behaviors. In April 2016, four electronic databases (Psych info, Pub Med, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science) were searched and a total of 4866 titles and abstracts were reviewed. After meeting inclusion criteria, study characteristics were extracted and the methodological quality of each study was assessed according to the Downs and Black Checklist. PRISMA guidelines for reporting of systematic reviews were followed. Twenty-five studies (16 cross-sectional, 8 longitudinal and one examining two populations and employing both a cross-sectional and prospective design) assessed 23 different cognitive and motivational factors. Seventeen studies were theory-based and 8 did not employ a theoretical model. Results showed that among SB-related cognitions, risk factors for greater sedentary time included having a more positive attitude towards SB, perceiving greater social support/norms for SB, reporting greater SB habits, having greater intentions to be sedentary, and having higher intrinsic, introjected, and external motivation towards SB. Protective factors associated with lower sedentary time included having greater feelings of self-efficacy/control over SB and greater intentions to reduce SB. Among PA-related cognitions, protective factors for lower SB included a more positive attitude towards PA, having greater social support/norms for PA, greater self-efficacy/control for PA, higher PA intentions, and higher intrinsic and identified motivation towards PA. In addition, feeling more supported and empowered in general was related with lower levels of SB. The average methodological quality score for included studies was 69% (SD = 9.15%; range 35–80%). In conclusion, a number of cognitive and motivational factors were identified that were associated with sedentarism. These findings have come from reasonably high quality studies. To further extend our understanding of the relation between cognitive and motivational factors and SB, more longitudinal, theory-driven studies examining cognitions and motivation from a sedentary perspective are required.
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    © 2016 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)
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