Madiera M. Lister, Aspen E. Streetman, Averie Brown and Katie M. Heinrich

Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Exercise self-efficacy (ESE) and empowerment are essential to encourage adherence to physical activity (PA). Research suggests ESE is a precursor to empowerment. The relationship between these variables and how women interpret them when analyzing their PA experiences is unclear. PURPOSE: To examine how exercise empowerment in specific types of exercise relates to ESE. It was hypothesized that women who feel empowered through resistance training (RT) would have higher ESE than those empowered by cardiovascular (CT) or neuromotor training (NT). METHODS: Mid-western women aged 18-65, 90% white, completed an online cross-sectional survey (N = 175). In an open-ended question, participants were asked what exercise type made them feel most empowered. These results were categorized into four groups and coded numerically: 1 = CT, 2 = RT, 3 = NT, and 4 = other, for analysis. The Self-Efficacy for Exercise (SEE) Questionnaire is a valid and reliable measure (Cronbach’s  = 0.922). It measures a person’s ability to overcome barriers and still be active. A score above 50 indicates high ESE. Only responses for participants who provided answers to exercise empowerment and the SEE were analyzed (n = 91). Only three participants were coded NT and one as other. Those respondents were not included in the analysis, leaving 87 participants. Data met normality assumptions. Independent t-tests were used to explore differences between groups. RESULTS: Among the participants, 60.9% (n = 53) of women felt most empowered through CT and 39.1% (n = 34) through RT. The mean SEE score for women in the CT group was 47.3 ± 22.1, and for women in the RT group was 53.7 ± 18.6. SEE scores did not significantly differ between the CT and RT groups (t (85) = -1.4, p = 0.2). CONCLUSION: Although the mean SEE score was higher for women who felt most empowered by RT, it was not significantly different than women empowered by CT, which does not support our hypothesis. A potential explanation for this is RT participation requires more skill development learned over time, and CT utilizes motor skills that are developed early in life and do not require specialization. Developing skills to participate in RT may increase SEE scores. Future studies with a larger sample size may detect differences in ESE between women empowered by RT and CT.

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