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Habits predict physical activity on days when intentions are weak
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Amanda Rebar, S Elavsky, J Maher, S Doerksen, D Conroy
Physical activity is regulated by controlled processes, such as intentions, and automatic processes, such as habits. Intentions relate to physical activity more strongly for people with weak habits than for people with strong habits, but people’s intentions vary day by day. Physical activity may be regulated by habits unless daily physical activity intentions are strong. University students (N = 128) self-reported their physical activity habit strength and subsequently self-reported daily physical activity intentions and wore an accelerometer for 14 days. On days when people had intentions that were weaker than typical for them, habit strength was positively related to physical activity, but on days when people had typical or stronger intentions than was typical for them, habit strength was unrelated to daily physical activity. Efforts to promote physical activity may need to account for habits and the dynamics of intentions.