Journal of Counseling and Psychology


For decades, exercise psychology researchers dismissed health/exercise knowledge as a determinant of physical activity (PA). We sought to overturn this misconception, showing that psychological theory may serve as a basis for informing physical education curriculum. Based on social cognitive and self-determined motivation theories, we examined health/exercise knowledge as a determinant of collegiate students’ PA maintenance (i.e., ≥ 6 months of regular PA involvement); adherence to United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) 2008 PA guidelines; and PA types (i.e., aerobic, weight training). Collegiate students (n = 231) provided data via online survey. ANOVA analyses revealed that knowledge scores differentiated: a) participants in the maintenance stage from non-active participants (medium effect size); b) guideline adherents from non-adherents (medium-large effect size); and c) engagement in both PA types compared to only aerobic (large effect size). Males reported significantly higher perceived knowledge than females (medium-large effect size) though actual scores were not significantly different. This study provided evidence that knowledge is relevant to collegiate students’ PA. Future research may aid physical educators in determining knowledge types, based on psychological theory, that increase PA maintenance/adherence.