The HBE lab conducts mixed-methods multidisciplinary research that is founded in theories of physical self, social support, motivation, and stress and coping.
Some recent findings emerging from the HBE lab include:
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MOTIVATION AMONG TRANSPLANT RECIPIENTS
SOCIAL SUPPORT AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Parents and friends play a critical role in the development of youths’ perceptions of competence and enjoyment for physical activity. Sport teammates and coaches are also important providers of support for physical activity participation. During physical activity interventions, the research team can also be seen as providing invaluable support.
- Women enjoy engaging in physical activity with other women who are perceived to be similar in age, weight status, and trauma.
- For overweight women, information and esteem support appear to be salient to their continued physical activity behaviour, whereas adolescents report higher levels of physical activity contingent on network support (i.e., connectedness to others). Breast cancer survivors find it important to receive support from other cancer survivors (i.e., reality-confirmation support).
There are many individuals that provide unique support for physical activity. It is important to understand who provides appropriate support and what strategies these providers use to be effective for increasing physical activity levels across the lifespan.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MOTIVATION
- Adolescents and adults across the lifespan are more likely to participate in physical activity if they report being competent (perceptions of ability) and if they enjoy exercise or feel that it is important and useful to them.
- Individuals who report exercising for intrinsic and self-determined reasons engage in more physical activity, including studies on transplant recipients, overweight women, adolescent girls, and young adults.
- Adolescents who report higher levels of self-determined motivation are more active during physical education classes.
Physical activity behaviour is strongly tied to perceptions of competence and enjoyment/interest. It is important to study how we can develop these perceptions to help individuals become more active. Activities that are novel, fun, social, involve feedback, and provide opportunities for choice may be most beneficial.
PHYSICAL SELF-PERCEPTIONS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Body-related pride motivates women to engage in physical activity.
- Overweight individuals are more likely to report experiences of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and envy compared to healthy-weight individuals
- Social physique anxiety and body-related shame both tend to be associated with reduced physical activity participation
- Experiences of social physique anxiety may undermine intrinsic motivation for physical activity, as seen in interviews with overweight women and in survey research with young adults.
Positive and negative emotional experiences are associated with physical activity behaviour (and other health behaviours, such as tobacco use and dieting). A better understanding of the self-conscious emotions of pride, shame, guilt, embarrassment, and envy may provide insight into physical activity motives and behaviour.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MENTAL HEALTH (PSYCHOLOGICAL GROWTH)
- Physical activity experiences can be empowering to overweight women if they learn new skills, meet new people, and generally become more aware of their personal barriers and enablers to physical activity participation.
- Positive psychological growth is a tangible outcome of physical activity experiences following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
- Experiences of positive psychological growth are more prevalent among young adult cancer survivors who receive social support and report less stress. Physical activity may moderate this relationship such that inactive young cancer survivors need support to experience growth, whereas active survivors experience psychological growth independent of social support.
- Transplant recipients who have become more active since their transplantation tend to report more self-determined reasons for engaging in physical activity compared to those individuals who have become less active since organ transplant (who report more extrinsic reasons). In turn, positive psychological growth is uniquely affected by physical activity motivation among transplant recipients.
Experiences of psychological growth do not appear to differ based on cancer treatments or stage at diagnosis, nor based on length of time since trauma (transplant or cancer). These positive emotional experiences may be greatly influenced by social support, stress and coping processes, perceptions of physical self, and health behaviour motivation.