Evaluating the impact of a mentoring based exercise program on body composition, fitness, self-perceptions, and motivation in overweight adolescents.

Thomas Raedeke, East Carolina University, USA

Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions

Poster Number: 45

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Project MENTOR is a lifestyle change program for overweight adolescents designed to facilitate exercise enjoyment and success based on self-determination theory. Kinesiology students serve as mentors and lead structured exercise sessions three times a week. The program also involves mentor led lifestyle coaching designed to enhance self-regulatory skills underpinning physical activity involvement and healthy eating. To date, 28 participants (approximately 50% African American and 50% Caucasian) with a mean age of 14 and a baseline BMI of 32 have participated in the mentoring intervention. An additional 12 adolescents were randomly assigned to a wait-list control condition. Along with body composition (e.g. DXA) and fitness assessments, participants completed a questionnaire that assessed self-perceptions (Whitehead, 1995; Harter 1988), behavioral regulation (Markland & Tobin, 2004), and basic psychological needs (Wilson et al., 2006) pre/post intervention. Based on repeated measures ANOVA and effect size inspection, mentoring condition participants showed improved aerobic fitness (d = .41) and decreased body fat (d = .27) compared to the control condition who exhibited minimal change. In terms of psychological characteristics, mentor participants reported increases in basic need fulfillment with effect sizes being moderate to large whereas the control condition reported decreases. Self-determined motivation improved for mentor participants (i.e., intrinsic d = .81, identified regulation d = .65) and decreased for wait-list control participants. Mentor condition participants reported improved self-esteem, physical self-worth, and perceived physical condition with the effect sizes being in the moderate to large range (i.e., d = .63 to 1.02). The changes in self-perceptions for the control group were smaller in magnitude. Overall, findings suggest that participating in a mentor-based exercise program has a positive impact on psychological characteristics with a less pronounced impact on body composition. Currently maintenance of change is being evaluated as well as the impact of a prolonged two semester intervention group.

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