Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne E. Mazzeo


Rates of obesity in children are rising at an alarming rate, particularly among girls and ethnic minorities. Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce this risk. Little is known about factors associated with physical activity (PA) in preadolescent populations, an age when intervention is ideal. Guided by Social Cognitive Theory, this study used a repeated-measures design to examine PA and its correlates, including PA self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and social influences (from parents and peers). Among participants (N = 57) in Girls on the Run, an innovative PA intervention for elementary school girls. Participants (M age = 9.4) predominately include girls from ethnic groups at highest risk for obesity, with 74% African American and 18% Hispanic. Multiple regressions indicated that, at baseline, girls with higher self-efficacy were significantly more likely to report greater intentions to be physically active (ß =.40, p ps p > .05). Overall, findings suggest the importance of targeting physical activity self-efficacy and fostering high levels of peer and parental support for physical activity to help girls meet recommended guidelines. Implications for future interventions are discussed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons