Exercise as Punishment: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior

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Background: Lack of exercise and physical inactivity have been implicated as contributors to obesity and overweight in America. At a time where experts point to the need for increased exercise, many youth have experienced exercise as a form of punishment, which appears to be imbedded in physical education and sport culture.

Purpose: This study uses the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to examine and predict the use of exercise as punishment (EAP) by coaches and physical education teachers.

Methods: Surveys based on the TPB were completed by 189physical education teachers and coaches.

Results: More than 60% of respondents indicated that they had used EAP; the theory's constructs were able to explain 68% of the variance in participants' intentions to use EAP, with attitude and subjective norm being significant predictors.

Discussion: The use of exercise as punishment by many teachers and coaches may contribute to lack of enjoyment and lack of participation in exercise and sport. Further research needs to address the consequences of this practice and to determine if it does lead to future inactivity.

Translation to Health Education Practice: Teachers and coaches need to be educated about the possible negative impact of EAP and positive alternative approaches to behavior management.

Original Citation

Richardson, K., Rosenthal, M., & Burak, L. (2012). Exercise as Punishment: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior. American Journal of Health Education, 43(6), 356-365.