Nurses’ suboptimal physical activity (PA) levels place them at high risk for cardiovascular diseases. Little is known about the motivational factors that influence their PA behavior.
This study drew on the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to investigate whether associations between nurses’ levels of mood disturbance, psychological need satisfaction (competence, autonomy, and relatedness), and self-determined motivation predict levels of objectively assessed PA.
A total of 363 nurses recruited from 14 hospitals in the Champlain region of Ontario, Canada, wore ActiGraph GT3X accelerometers and completed standardized questionnaires assessing sociodemographic and work characteristics, mood disturbance, and SDT variables. Levels of moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) were measured in minutes/week in bouts ≥10 min. Data were analyzed using path analysis and multiple mediational model.
The model predicting MVPA showed good fit to the data, χ 2 (4, n = 363) = 7.82, p = .10; comparative fit index = .991; Tucker–Lewis Index = .967; root mean square error of approximation = .051. Higher mood disturbance was associated with lower perceived competence (β = −.29, p = .002), autonomy (β = −.29, p = .002), and relatedness (β = −.19, p = .002). Lower perceived competence (β = .46, p = .003) and autonomy (β = .14, p = .011), as well as higher mood disturbance (β = −.16, p = .016), were associated with less self-determined motivation for PA. Lower self-determined motivation was associated with lower levels of MVPA among nurses.
Interventions targeting low mood, as well as perceived competence and autonomy in exercise, may promote MVPA among nurses and reduce cardiac risk.